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This ain't chemistry. This is Art.
September 29, 2013 1:14 PM   Subscribe

With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad."

H           Periodic Table of Breaking Bad                          He
Li  Be            [here be spoilers]            B   C   N   O   F   Ne
Na  Mg                                          Al  Si  P   S   Cl  Ar
K   Ca  Sc  Ti  V   Cr  Mn  Fe  Co  Ni  Cu  Zn  Ga  Ge  As  Se  Br  Kr
Rb  Sr  Y   Zr  Nb  Mo  Tc  Ru  Rh  Pd  Ag  Cd  In  Sn  Sb  Te  I   Xe
Cs  Ba      Hf  Ta  W   Re  Os  Ir  Pt  Au  Hg  Tl  Pb  Bi  Po  At  Rn
Fr  Ra      Rf  Ha  Sg  Bh  Hs  Mt  Ds  Uuu Uub Uut Uuq Uup Uuh Uus Uuo

        La  Ce  Pr  Nd  Pm  Sm  Eu  Gd  Tb  Dy  Ho  Er  Tm  Yb  Lu
        Ac  Th  Pa  U   Np  Pu  Am  Cm  Bk  Cf  Es  Fm  Md  No  Lr
posted by Rhaomi (974 comments total) 487 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tight, Rhaomi. Tight tight tight!
posted by bicyclefish at 1:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [40 favorites]


Oh my god.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


so what you are saying with this is I should watch Breaking Bad
posted by Sebmojo at 1:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a triumph of ASCII art. Bravo, Rhaomi.
posted by Cash4Lead at 1:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Bloody hell. Even the tags are immense. This is the most work I've seen in weeks.
posted by litleozy at 1:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear God.
posted by mykescipark at 1:18 PM on September 29, 2013


I vote Rhaomi for best post. (Not that there's a contest. It just is.)
posted by JHarris at 1:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, bitch!
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Co is a link to Team Coco. LOVE.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:19 PM on September 29, 2013


Winner: Best Formatting, MeFi Awards 2013.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:19 PM on September 29, 2013 [47 favorites]


All other Breaking Bad posts should be closed now.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:22 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't even watch Breaking Bad, and I love this. Fantastic post.
posted by Mooski at 1:23 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Okay, getting over the applause for the post -- here is where I admit I know nothing about Breaking Bad. Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion? I'm unlikely to start watching at this late date, I don't have time to get into a new show right now, but in case I decide to later?
posted by JHarris at 1:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chemistry teacher seeks alternatives to his HMO.
posted by planetesimal at 1:27 PM on September 29, 2013 [60 favorites]


Holy shit. I haven't even moused over a link and I'm in love. Well done.
posted by nevercalm at 1:28 PM on September 29, 2013


Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?

"Vince always said the story was how Mr. Chips becomes Scarface"
posted by fatbird at 1:29 PM on September 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Pretty, pretty good.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:29 PM on September 29, 2013


I'd never seen that Sam Jackson clip. So great.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:30 PM on September 29, 2013


*standing ovation*
posted by fontophilic at 1:32 PM on September 29, 2013


Everyone pretty much dies, right? I mean...I think about Jesse and I want him to die, just because I can't handle the thought of him suffering for the rest of his life. I never engage in this, and I don't get excited over TV like this, so I don't even know how to talk about it. If I was on the train reading this I'd be skimming like mad to try and find out. I'm so spoiled with instant everything that I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WAIT ANYMORE.
posted by nevercalm at 1:33 PM on September 29, 2013


Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?

The show watches as a high school chemistry teachers turns into Al Capone, initially as a result of cancer, which causes him to make and sell meth in order to leave money for his family; later, as he recovers from the cancer (thanks, in part, due to excellent treatment he pays for with meth money), due to his own perfectionism and desire to make a mark on the world.

But, in the way of great crime stories everywhere, every moral compromise forces greater moral compromise, every small crime leads to greater crimes, and everybody is tainted with the decay, spreading and irreversible, damaging all it touches.

This is told in far from a morose fashion. The show is a masterpiece of pop art, and a smart piece of pop art, in that it repeatedly causes you to root for a monster, and repeatedly turns that around on you. There are all sorts of whiz-bang filmmaking tricks, including musical montages (and, at one point, a narcocorrido music video), gunfights, moments of bleak humor, cliffhangers, sudden reversals, and pretty much the entire arsenal of storytelling gimmickery, but, amazingly, almost always used in service of the essential story, and the characters, who audiences genuinely care about, compromised though they may be.

I am so goddamn sad it is over tonight, and yet I can't wait to see how it turns out.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:34 PM on September 29, 2013 [72 favorites]


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

High school chemistry teacher discovers he has cancer; chooses exactly the wrong thing to do every chance he gets; becomes a drug kingpin and a very bad person.
posted by jiawen at 1:35 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


JHarris: I think the sincere answer is that any summary won't be worth it. There are only a few shows where its as key as Breaking Bad to watch unspoiled, because you're not just spoiling the plot but also the whole shocking, exciting development of show's characters. If I spoil Game of Thrones it's a pain because you know what happens next but it's still a fun ride, if I spoil Breaking Bad it's awful because the whole point is to be not sure how to react to what's happening- if you know what will happen next you do.

The best I would do is to say it's about a normal seeming guy who breaks down and starts cooking meth. Also what fatbird said.
posted by litleozy at 1:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, is this FPPOTY or GFPPOAT?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is even better than Jesse with Drunk Uncle on SNL last night. And it's hard to top I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCK-KNOCKS.
posted by NedKoppel at 1:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for opening a new Breaking Bad post because I really didn't want to have to go digging for the most recent one later tonight.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Breaking Bad: Youth Edition is brilliant, especially the ending.

Bravo!
posted by fuse theorem at 1:40 PM on September 29, 2013


One of the reasons to watch the show is that, overall, it does a brilliant job of showing how complex characters make immoral choices for comprehensible reasons. It doesn't depend upon moral ambiguity to give viewers a space in which to fill in an acceptable motive that lets them love a monster. It's always (eventually) clear how circumstance A and choice B lead to consequence C--and the characters are aware of it. The show doesn't let anyone, least of all the viewers, off the hook, and that's rare and special in TV.
posted by fatbird at 1:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


My summary of the show is this: It's a show much like any other drama, except they don't go out of their way to insult their audience constantly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is the best BB-related article I've seen all week. Thank you.
posted by ipe at 1:41 PM on September 29, 2013


So do we get that one last epic "[x], bitch," tonight from Jesse, or did we get that in "To'hajiilee?" Any thoughts?
posted by entropicamericana at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2013


If you haven't watched it, I wouldn't read this thread any further. Seasons 1-5.5 are on Netflix. Then you can buy the current season on Amazon instant watch.

Oh yeah, knowing that his cancer goes into remission is a huge spoiler. I remember gasping aloud at that moment. Walter can see the blood on his hands, and now he has to live with it. Until that point, "to provide for my family ASAP, (and protect my ego)" could be a legitimate motivation. After that point, that reasoning is gone. Seeing that beaten up paper towel dispenser later on is just a reminder of that moment.

SO GOOD. GAH.
posted by fontophilic at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beauty! Thanks for this.
posted by shortyJBot at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2013


So I check out my Breaking Bad name and it's a link to a video I was watching a few minutes ago (puts on Al hat)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:49 PM on September 29, 2013


Winner: Best Formatting, MeFi Awards 2013.

Disqualified for breaking the entire front page of the mobile version of the site.
posted by dogwalker at 1:50 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


And I guess I'm going to have to leave the internets in few yours until I can play catch up this side of the pond
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:50 PM on September 29, 2013


This looks cool and I am avoiding even reading a single comment in here :( for fear of the spoilage and I cannot wait to come back and see wtf this weird post is once I finish the series!
posted by threeants at 1:51 PM on September 29, 2013


I think it should be emphasized, when trying to explain the show, that although it's often a masterpiece of storytelling with careful plotting and a very clear sense all along of the arc of the show, it essentially is a very intense cluster of character studies. Not just of Walter White, the high-school-teacher-cum-meth-producer, but of the people embroiled in his metamorphosis, from his former student who helps him cook, to his family.

The show slowly scrapes down into the core of the main characters, where their decisions and actions are coherent in ways that they, themselves, don't recognize. Walt is not at all the person he thinks he is, his decisions are not at all motivated by the things that he thinks they are. Over time, you begin to see the outlines of the inner-Walt, who wears a Walt-suit of supposed good intentions like a shroud, a creature of monstrous petty grievances and self-regard. The everyman who strikes out at the entitled BMW-driving bluetooth-earpiece-wearing douchebag that we cheer early on is slowly revealed to be something much more malevolent and — this is crucial — the impulse that motivated him and, within ourselves, our cheering for him is shown to be at the core of that transformation. What has been liberated is a narcissistic, angry vindictiveness that lies to itself about itself, but the show is not going to lie to us about it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [45 favorites]


Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?

A teenage boy, stricken with cerebral palsy and facing life upheavals from his recently passed father, leaving him and his pregnant mom alone, writes a story about the dying father he's always hated.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [32 favorites]


Ohgod ohgod Xe *guffaw*
posted by carsonb at 1:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit!! I thought _I_ was a big fan.

Brilliant work!
posted by savitarka at 1:55 PM on September 29, 2013


Also, something that's been working on my mind which I haven't seen elsewhere is that Walt is a bomb and that Gus was a poison.

SPOILERS

More or less every single one of Walt's killings have involved a bomb going off: Gus, that plane, Tuco... and it's his general approach to situations: no real forward planning (even when he killed Gus, which seems like a lot of forethought, he only found out the way when Jessie told him about Mexican dude in the wheelchair, read that back and he poisoned Brock to get Jessie on his side WITHOUT knowing how to kill Gus. So patchwork just about working out, not supreme mastermind) and basically making things so extreme that most things end up destroyed. Walt doesn't handle situations he makes them explode and then somehow comes out alive. It was why Mike was so wary of Walt- you really don't know what this guy will do but you can trust that he will end up inadvertently destroying everything around him. It's quote from the first episode 'the faster the change, the stronger the reaction', only made worse because Walt now cannot stop exploding (so to speak) or he'll have to face the nothing that he's created (brilliant shown in the last episode with his fucking barrel of pointless, empty money).

Gus on the other hand was poised, calculated poison. It's how he killed the Cartel and its why, symbolically, he never could have been killed by the ricin. He was trying to poison Jessie against Walt in the whole fourth season. I'm sure there's more to this, but nothing to me captured more the difference between Gus and Walt than realising what their weapon of choice was.

Incidentally, this is also why I really doubt Walt will actually use that ricin, it doesn't fit his character, it's too calculated and clean.
posted by litleozy at 1:55 PM on September 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

Man is naught but a collection of sinister hipster accoutrements. All material gain is fleeting.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I read the complimentary comments in this thread, I hear them in the voices of Badger and Skinny Pete.

Seriously though, great post.
posted by 4ster at 2:06 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amazing how you shift one column left from the noble gases and you end up in assholeville.
posted by crapmatic at 2:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay. I was getting really, really, really sick of seeing stuff about Breaking Bad on every last website everywhere and looking forward to the day when people stop going on about it.

But this post was pretty freaking cool.
posted by Foosnark at 2:10 PM on September 29, 2013


Holy fuuuuuuuuuuuck this is fantastic.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:11 PM on September 29, 2013


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

Hubris
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:12 PM on September 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Walter White: high INT, low WIS.

[SPOILERS]


Also, I'm still just tickled that the episode with the final showdown between Heisenberg and Gus is called "Face Off".
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:13 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a great post, thank you!

I've been seeing Breaking Bad compared to The Shield a lot lately. Considering I've never seen one episode and don't even really know what it's about, does this mean I should go watch The Shield? Is is as good as BB?
posted by triggerfinger at 2:14 PM on September 29, 2013


This is magnificent.

Was wondering if there were going to be a brace, or handful, of (attempted) FPPs tomorrow about Breaking Bad. Hope this will be the MetaFilter post on the whole show and the finale.
posted by Wordshore at 2:14 PM on September 29, 2013


I guess I will comment here so I can have yet another BB post in my Recent Activity for this evening.
posted by jeather at 2:16 PM on September 29, 2013


Also wondering why the three great TV shows of this generation - Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire - all concern the complexities of people behind crime in America.
posted by Wordshore at 2:22 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've been seeing Breaking Bad compared to The Shield a lot lately. Considering I've never
seen one episode and don't even really know what it's about, does this mean I should go watch The Shield? Is is as good as BB?


The Shield is more meat and potatoes TV, not quite on the same level. Still good, though.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


When BB first began, I gave it a try, but just couldn't find anything about it to warrant keeping up with it. So, I gave it a pass.

Flash forward to this summer, and AMC's near-constant mini-marathons and this week's complete series marathon. I gave the show another look, and came-around to enjoying it, for the most part. Looking forward to the ending tonight.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi just invented a new dimension
posted by ouke at 2:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chemist here. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you took the trouble to make an accurate periodic table. I f***ing hate the Periodic Tables of Herbs and their ilk, where the symbols are total nonsense. Anyway, cheers to you!
posted by Didymium at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Amazing how you shift one column left from the noble gases and you end up in assholeville.

(Just to clarify, my comment is about the elements, not the articles or authors in the links.)
posted by crapmatic at 2:29 PM on September 29, 2013


Oddly fitting for the show though.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on September 29, 2013


I'm only dimly aware of Breaking Bad as a thing, but this is a lovely rendering of the Periodic Table and I am delighted it is on the front page! <3
posted by beryllium at 2:32 PM on September 29, 2013


Oh man this is a fabulous post!

And if you haven't seen BrBa, avoid any posts referring to it. The show is so good, it'll still be awesome even if you get spoiled for every major plot turn, but it's more fun not to know. The basic premise--high school chemistry teacher with a special-needs son and a baby on the way gets diagnosed with cancer and decides to cook meth in order to provide for his family after he dies--is all you need to know.
posted by lovecrafty at 2:33 PM on September 29, 2013


Wow that's an interesting point Wordshore, I suppose it's partly to explore the darkside of the society we're meant to praise, to bring out its carnivalesque and allow people to let off steam watching heightened characters, while remaining realistic (i.e. the gangster both as trope and as person), and making space for meaty moral choices whose repercussions and implications stretch beyond the immediate situations presented. Seeing a husband kill his longterm friend for drug money is terrible in itself and in what it means for drugs in society.

Plus escapist voyeurism, the kind of 'oooh this is terrible and awful, I can't stop watching' coupled with seeing a world we know nothing about. But I'd want to think about that some more, really interesting observation.
posted by litleozy at 2:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Uncle Jack is gonna dip into the supply tonight.
posted by planetesimal at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2013


Damn, that supercut at Rn... talk about an abusive relationship
posted by ish__ at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow
posted by Sing Fool Sing at 2:39 PM on September 29, 2013


wondering why the three great TV shows of this generation - Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, The Wire - all concern the complexities of people behind crime in America.

maybe because as I heard somebody say once, if England is a nation of shopkeepers, America a nation of shoplifters.
posted by philip-random at 2:40 PM on September 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ha, Xenon is great.
posted by painquale at 2:46 PM on September 29, 2013


I know it's been said a bunch already, but Rhaomi has knocked this post out of the park.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:50 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I completely lost it when the 16-bit RPG parody had Walter COMBINE H. SALAMACA and BOMB to throw at Gus.

Ding! Ding! Ding!
posted by byanyothername at 2:52 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A month ago I posted an IRL for a meetup tonight, completely oblivious that it would conflict with BB. I think we may set a land speed record for MeFi meetups before everyone runs home to watch. Hoping mr. ambrosia can restrain himself until I get home to fire up the DVR.

Brilliant post, Rhaomi.
posted by ambrosia at 2:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man; just browsing Rhaomi's previous posts on MetaFilter. Consistently, so much work put into them. {breaks off typing for a few seconds} I am actually applauding these.

This ain't MetaFilter. This is Art.
posted by Wordshore at 2:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is incredible. I don't think I will get through every link before one of them breaks or goes bad.
posted by chemoboy at 3:01 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

If America had a decent healthcare system, Walt would have remained a school teacher.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:04 PM on September 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


Everyone pretty much dies, right?
Dude! Spoilers for reality?

I'd only made it to season 34, too. Now I'm just going to be bummed for the rest of the series.
posted by roystgnr at 3:06 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


ambrosia: "A month ago I posted an IRL for a meetup tonight, completely oblivious that it would conflict with BB. I think we may set a land speed record for MeFi meetups before everyone runs home to watch. Hoping mr. ambrosia can restrain himself until I get home to fire up the DVR. "

I'm supposed to go to a birthday party tonight. I don't know what my friend's mom was thinking 28 years ago?

Seriously considering dosing myself with Lily of the Valley.
posted by mannequito at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2013


Everyone pretty much dies, right?

Except Huell.
posted by mannequito at 3:12 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Except Huell

So, half the cast survives, on a raw tonnage basis.
posted by fatbird at 3:13 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Moderator(s): Y U Hide Rhaomi's awesome formatting under a "More Inside" link?
posted by chimaera at 3:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amazing post. So ready for tonight!
posted by SarahElizaP at 3:16 PM on September 29, 2013


Well, it was breaking the entire front page of the blue on my Android. I didn't ask for the change, but I imagine that someone else did.
posted by Scientist at 3:17 PM on September 29, 2013


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

A reminder that the most dangerous thing in America is a pissed off old white guy.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Moderator(s): Y U Hide Rhaomi's awesome formatting under a "More Inside" link?


I'm going to guess it's because as awesome as it is, it kind of messed with the mobile formatting of the site.
posted by kbanas at 3:18 PM on September 29, 2013


More or less every single one of Walt's killings have involved a bomb going off: Gus, that plane, Tuco...

Interesting theory and one which puts a different light on the 52-as-mushroom-cloud/Walt-as-Oppenheimer theory I've seen discussed elsewhere.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:25 PM on September 29, 2013


Wow, the links' title attributes explain the symbols, sometimes by way of little jokes themselves. Masterpiece.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:31 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tonight's episode isn't going to be long enough and that saddens me. A lot has to happen first, the least of which is Walt aging like 2 or 3 years before he, presumably, heads back to New Mexico to machine-gun all the bad guys.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:33 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus, Rhaomi, your posts are so consistently perfect and brilliant that it pains me. This is ART, yo.

If y'all wondering if you should start this show can give me a couple hours, I will explain at length what makes this show so wonderful and astonishingly brilliant, to the point that now, at its ultimate hour, I think it's surpassed The Wire to become the single best show in television history. But you have to give me till after the finale airs, and then some time to weep and sit in shocked silence, because holy hell, this final season has frayed the fuck out of my nerves.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is awesome Rhaomi, will keep me busy during the crying jags in the week to follow...
posted by pearlybob at 3:37 PM on September 29, 2013


Except Huell

Huell's Rules.

Also: Huell waits.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haha, Bi, oh man, classic. Wonderful post.
posted by m0nm0n at 3:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


weird, it was fine on my android.
posted by nadawi at 3:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I should have said:

My summary of the show is this: It's a show much like any other drama greek tragedy, except they don't go out of their way to insult their audience constantly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:45 PM on September 29, 2013


the least of which is Walt aging like 2 or 3 years

SPOILERS

The hairy Walt is turning 52 on that last day; earlier in the season he turned 51. So machine gun Walt is no more than about ten months after he flees, considering the couple months he was seen in New Hampshire in the penultimate episode.
posted by fatbird at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2013


On Talking Bad they established that he'd been in NH for 3 or 4 months before returning to NM.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:53 PM on September 29, 2013


Uuo = unbelievable underwear offer
posted by cazoo at 3:56 PM on September 29, 2013


The everyman who strikes out at the entitled BMW-driving bluetooth-earpiece-wearing douchebag

It recently occurred to me that he might not have been striking out due to righteous indignation, but instead due to jealousy. A BMW-driving bluetooth-earpiece-wearing douchebag is what he aspires to be.
posted by Ndwright at 4:04 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The hairy Walt is turning 52 on that last day; earlier in the season he turned 51. So machine gun Walt is no more than about ten months after he flees, considering the couple months he was seen in New Hampshire in the penultimate episode."

There was also the Crystal Blue Persuasion montage in 5/08, where Walt and Todd cook a bunch of batches in their Vamonos Pest operation. I think that was supposed to be approx. 3 months.
posted by mannequito at 4:06 PM on September 29, 2013


Impressive post. Almost an embarrassment of riches, though - so much interesting stuff that, in a way, I wish there were more time to peruse it all before the finale. On the other hand, I really don't want to wait to see what happens. Either way, well done Rhaomi!
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:07 PM on September 29, 2013


that he might not have been striking out due to righteous indignation, but instead due to jealousy.

I've often wondered if righteous indignation is one of jealousy's favorite cloaks
posted by philip-random at 4:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It recently occurred to me that he might not have been striking out due to righteous indignation, but instead due to jealousy.

My sense is that Walt doesn't really understand his own motivations, and that often as not they are multivalent with multiple origins. He rationalizes everything he's done retroactively, but I'm not convinced he knows why he does what he does moment to moment. His motivations seem more primal than that, more basic -- he gets mad, he covets, he panics, he hides, he attacks.

I confess I was slow to warm to the show because while it was tightly written and beautifully executed and the characters were (and are) just amazing, I found the core propulsive system for the plot hard to swallow entirely. I simply didn't buy that the Walt we meet early in S1 would be capable of some of the pivotal actions later that season and in the next. Once I decided to accept his choices as sort of accidental but then relentlessly pursued, it was easier to go with the flow. He can't quite explain nor maybe even clearly understand how (say) he decided to strike back at Krazy 8, but once he'd made his choice he pursued it doggedly, to the exclusion of all other options, regardless of consequence.
posted by gompa at 4:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow, this is a great post. Thanks, Rhaomi.
posted by box at 4:17 PM on September 29, 2013


I liked the initial formatting better, with the table on the front page. Could we have it moved back to the way it was?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, man. I just noticed that Walt got blood all over Holly's little hooded PJs in the big family meltdown.
posted by planetesimal at 4:32 PM on September 29, 2013


Ok, I am possibly the only person in the US who isn't watching this ....YET. So I'm going to favorite this chart (which is AMAZING) and watch/read all the elements once I finally binge on the show...it took 8 years for me to finally watch AD, I think BB will only take 6 months or so to start.
posted by bquarters at 4:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was the 200th favorite so I take that as a good sign. Amazing work by the OP.
posted by bquarters at 4:40 PM on September 29, 2013


Holy shit, dude. What a fantastic post, bitch.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:46 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Confession time: A month ago, I knew nothing about Breaking Bad beyond the pilot episode. I'd caught it during an AMC marathon a few years back -- the pilot and a bit of the one where he blows up Tuco's lair with the fake meth. I really liked it, but never got around to watching the whole thing (which is something I'd never really done with any serialized TV apart from Lost). It felt too daunting to buy all the DVD sets or catch a marathon on TV, or even to torrent it.

Netflix really made the difference. It made it so effortless to catch up, I binge watched after getting bit by the Season 5B hype bug and made it all the way through in time to watch "Granite State" on live broadcast. It's not as hard as it sounds -- one ~45-minute episode or two per day, or more than that if you've got a long weekend (I was sick with a bad cold at one point), and you can power through all 61 episodes in just a few weeks.

Catching up on all the memes, discussion, and meta-commentary I'd deliberately skipped over for spoiler protection provided great fodder for a big linkdump post, but a laundry list of content like I'd done for the Lost finale just felt so prosaic for such a phenomenal show. Hence the table format -- it fit the theme well, and ended up offering a creative challenge to find even more material to match. It was fun! And I'm so glad everybody liked it. I haven't had the chance to post as much here recently and it felt nice to make something special.

(PS: Apologies for messing up the mobile front page; I'd talked to pb briefly about the formatting but never thought about how the smaller width on phones might mess things up. Thanks to restless_nomad for swapping in the new blurb on the front page!)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [38 favorites]


Not reading yet, just posting a comment in this EPIC HISTORIC THREAD

I will say that I have access to ASCAP licensing records for this show and (major spoilers) "Yakety Sax" in its entirety plays over the end credits. Excited...
posted by naju at 5:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


#BreakingBadSpoilers Pan up shot of Flynn walking down a sidewalk, drop crutches, walks normally, grows up to be Kevin Spacey.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not a Spoiler, but how can you expect a certain ending when the main character calls himself "Heisenberg"?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:27 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because his mass is much greater than an electron?
posted by thelonius at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine is posting pictures from the cemetery showing... someone did a complete Tortuga costume. Amazing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:31 PM on September 29, 2013


"Can someone summarize the show, in a non-spoilery fashion?"

It is the story of a small businessman struggling under the Obama Adminstration
posted by birdherder at 5:42 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


@room Do you have a any links?
posted by wensink at 5:49 PM on September 29, 2013


Unfortunately, it's on her private FB feed, but I uploaded one via Photobucket. Tortuga.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:52 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sitting in an absolutely jam-packed bar. As soon as it starts everyone will shush each other and remain totally silent except for well timed gasps and laughter. I have so loved watching this show in a bar over the past season, it honestly adds a lot.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:58 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


An actual cold opening!
posted by planetesimal at 6:04 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Iridium notwithstanding, I realize a bit late that a general-purpose chat like Mefi IRC might not be the best place for finale discussion (lots of West Coasters and non-fans). So keep it in the thread, I guess?
posted by Rhaomi at 6:07 PM on September 29, 2013


I'm the one who has only seen the first two seasons on DVD and who doesn't have cable or ability to stream TV, but who still really wants to follow tonight's show. I don't know how others feel, but if you would all please give a blow-by-blow account of what's going on on the show tonight, I would be eternally grateful. If I'm outvoted by those who want to avoid spoilers, I'll understand, but I'm really hoping this thread will be spoiler heaven.
posted by marsha56 at 6:08 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sad to see it end, but excited to see how it'll end.
posted by flippant at 6:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have so many more gray hairs now.
posted by planetesimal at 6:11 PM on September 29, 2013


Dude, can we start talking about the show yet? It says "spoilers" in the post and everything.
posted by nevercalm at 6:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


FINALLY SOME COMIC RELIEF
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:27 PM on September 29, 2013


LALALALALA I CANT HEAR YOU LALALALA SEE YOU IN 3.5 HOURS
posted by Room 641-A at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2013


clip show?
posted by acidic at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2013


RICIN!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:36 PM on September 29, 2013


Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen. *evil cackle*
posted by entropicamericana at 6:36 PM on September 29, 2013


I just hope everything turns out okay for Todd.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


Chekov's gun go boom!
posted by planetesimal at 6:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


STEVIA!!
posted by thinkpiece at 6:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate to say, "I hate to say I told you so."
posted by Sys Rq at 6:38 PM on September 29, 2013


I just hope everything turns out okay for Todd.

They should a spinoff, with Todd as head of paper company in Scanton, Pennsylvania.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I tried calling the seven digits from the license plate with both New Hampshire and Albuquerque area codes but neither number worked.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:38 PM on September 29, 2013


These are my predictions for the final episode of Breaking Bad. I posted this deep in the last BrBa thread, and I apologize for the copy-and-paste job, but everything I've seen leads me to believe that my predictions will be accurate. Please do not read beyond this sentence if you do not like spoilers.

...

It turns out that Hank has a twin brother who was posing as him during the elaborate sting operation in which he was shot. Fortunately, because of an injury that he sustained when a mineral fell on him at a rock-and-gem convention, twin Hank (who shares the same mineralogical interests as original Hank) has a plate in his head made out of a bullet-resistant experimental composite material. The composite material was something that Elliott discovered at Gray Matter many years ago, with no help from Walt, which made Walt jealous and angry, so it is ironic and powerful that Elliott's invention saved twin Hank. After playing dead and being buried in a shallow grave, twin Hank performs CPR on Gomez until they are both rescued by original Hank. Gomez is immediately transported to the emergency room and everyone is fine.

Meanwhile, Vince Gilligan uses flashbacks to show that Walter White spent his month in New Hampshire reading more than two hundred self-help books. Walt realizes that he has been a jerk. Because Charlie Rose says that blue meth is still being produced, he knows that Jesse is still alive and in dire need of loving guidance. It is time to make amends. As a token of his friendship, he buys an M60 machine gun for Jesse and asks his forgiveness. Jesse is sad at first, but then Walt shows that Andrea is still alive, and everything was a bad dream caused by eating too much Ben and Jerry's.

The prosecutors drop all charges against the White family when it is revealed that the kid Todd shot in the desert was actually a child-sized adult who the DEA had adopted out to an unwitting family in order to infiltrate drug rings by getting kids addicted to meth. (This is the darkest moment. It is tempered by the fact that it was not the original DEA plan, and that the diminutive adult adoptee DEA agent had gone rogue.) Naturally, this is a very controversial tactic, and it somehow turns public support against prosecuting the White family. Elliott and Gretchen's $28 million drug abuse resistance education grant saves all of the meth-addicted children.

There is only one loose end left untied. What will happen to the Nazis and all their dirty money? They use it to buy a suede-hull luxury speedboat made entirely out of diamonds and leather. Then they take it out on a reservoir to go boating, but they are irresponsible and drink too much. The suede hull sustains serious water damage and begins to leak. The Nazis are too inebriated to use their life preservers. They go down with the leather/diamond ship, which is eventually discovered by Walt Jr. on a scuba-diving trip in celebration of his 18th birthday. He shares the diamond wealth with Holly and Skyler, who never know where it really came from. It turns out that diamonds are the cure for cancer, so Walt eats some diamonds and is fine.

Their house is a mess, but they buy a new one.

The closing moments are a real tear-jerker. It turns out that the cool car with the M60 in the trunk is actually a sweet lowrider that is also for Jesse. Walt gives it to Jesse and they drive out to the desert to the site of their first cook. Along the way, Walt demonstrates some of the lowrider's many features, like its hydraulic bounce unit and three-wheel motion abilities. When they arrive, Jesse sets the car to bouncing while they light a grill and have one more cook — but this time it is a barbecue, and instead of cooking meth they are charring up some new-fashioned veggie dogs. (Both have adopted nonviolent lifestyles that include compassion for all living things, including whatever goes into hot dogs). They raise a toast to their bright future as content, self-aware human friends.

In a callback to the very first episode, where the cancer doctor had mustard on his doctor coat, Jesse asks Walt if he wants some mustard for his veggie dog. Walt says no, and asks what other condiments they brought. Jesse reaches into a grocery bag and pulls out a bottle of — what's this?

"Franch, bitch!" Walt and Jesse laugh, and the screen fades to white. Music: "Celebrate Good Times" by Kool & The Gang.
posted by compartment at 6:43 PM on September 29, 2013 [28 favorites]


some awareness from Walt!
posted by thelonius at 6:49 PM on September 29, 2013


"I did it for me". Holy crap, not lying to himself for once.
posted by gaspode at 6:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


GOODBYE FOR FOUR HOURS, INTERNET.
posted by Justinian at 7:04 PM on September 29, 2013


Thank you Jesse.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


"that Stevia crap"
posted by thelonius at 7:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You do it." Brilliant brilliant.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


holy shit, my band used to cover this song
posted by thelonius at 7:13 PM on September 29, 2013


For those who are disappointed that this didn't turn into a spoiler-rich live-blog thread, there's a decent (though inadequately detailed) live blog at WSJ Speakeasy.
posted by willbaude at 7:13 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


JESSE LIIIIIIIVES!!
posted by nicebookrack at 7:14 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


bravo
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:14 PM on September 29, 2013


Wow, I wasn't sure they could come up with a satisfying ending but that did it for me.

SPOILER ALERT: He beat cancer.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Todd.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


The ending did not disappoint.
posted by schnee at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2013


Yay. My favorite bit was Todd.
posted by gaspode at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm still crying.
posted by planetesimal at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perfect.
posted by SarahElizaP at 7:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


My cockamaimie theory isn't about the plot, but the final shot: Walt breaks the fourth wall and stares silently at us as the screen fades to black.
posted to MetaFilter by wensink at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [+]


Ooh! Do I get somethin'?
posted by wensink at 7:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was wonderful. including the ringtone.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


view count SOARS
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's all over now, baby blue.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walt gets a bit of closure, Jesse kills Todd and goes free while Walt's family is finally free of him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


To the authorities it will look like he was cooking the blue all along.
posted by maggieb at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [19 favorites]


But seriously, what does Jesse do? They're already talking about resolution. Here's a co-kingpin, on the run.
posted by nevercalm at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013


A predictable but satisfying ending.
posted by ColdChef at 7:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like, I love that Jesse lived and offed Todd, but shit, he can never rest again.
posted by nevercalm at 7:19 PM on September 29, 2013


But seriously, what does Jesse do?

Whatever the hell he wants. No one is manipulating him, he gets to decide what he does next. But it sounds like carpentry will become his thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Neatorama posts about this post.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:20 PM on September 29, 2013


That is how you end a series.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:20 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I like how they left the fate of the pizza on the roof unresolved.
posted by oulipian at 7:21 PM on September 29, 2013 [21 favorites]


Poor Huell.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:21 PM on September 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


But seriously, what does Jesse do?

He runs to the sea, looks back at the camera, freeze frame, zoom.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:22 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Poor Jesse. Though for once he stood up to Walt.

That was a surprisingly happy ending for the show. But would Skyler really be able to get immunity for giving up Hank and Gomie's grave?
posted by jeather at 7:22 PM on September 29, 2013


Jesse is fucked. I don't see another possibility. It ended like he was home free.
posted by nevercalm at 7:23 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesse is fucked. I don't see another possibility. It ended like he was home free.

Interesting, why do you say so? No one is looking for him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even if Jesse ends up in jail, he's free from the Nazis, he's free from Walt, he's ALIVE. I don't even care, I'm so happy for him right now.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesse wasn't wanted before the Aryan Brotherhood kidnapped him. I think as far as the show goes, Jesse was off the radar since APD released him from custody. So, maybe he'll cook meth in Alaska.
posted by planetesimal at 7:25 PM on September 29, 2013


‘Breaking Bad’ Ends With Reveal That Whole Series Was Plot of Book Marie Shoplifted
posted by gaspode at 7:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


The only evidence of Jesse's involvement was his confessional tape, which the Nazis took and, hopefully, destroyed.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't think? The DEA has no memory? He gets to be a part of the death of two feds, his girl, and all sorts of chaos and then driving off laughing into the sunset?
posted by nevercalm at 7:26 PM on September 29, 2013


Nobody's been looking for Jesse for a year. Hank is the only one who knew his involvement, and Hank is dead. He's free.

What a perfect ending.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


I still haven't seen even five seconds of Breaking Bad, but it's so nice to read a thread with no snarking, everyone happy, just enjoying something. ♥
posted by JHarris at 7:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


That's cute. Are we suddenly in a pre-NSA world? Anyone who has ever had any involvement in anything doesn't get off scot-free.

Hank's partner knew about Jesse, as did the wife, who he was living with?
posted by nevercalm at 7:28 PM on September 29, 2013


Jesse's going to apprentice himself to a carpenter and eventually open a woodcarving shop on Etsy. Solid, honest labor. Happy 29th birthday, Jesse!
posted by nicebookrack at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Like these people don't email? I know the partner was saying that it was sort of close to the vest, but....
posted by nevercalm at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2013


He's free.

In the legal sense, yes. In the sense that he is free from guilt or from the personal consequences of this, no.
posted by jeather at 7:30 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perfection.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:30 PM on September 29, 2013


Holly's not going to see a cent. :-(
posted by acidic at 7:30 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


He gets to be a part of the death of two feds, his girl, and all sorts of chaos and then driving off laughing into the sunset?

The DEA has no knowledge of his involvement in the death of Hank and Lopez. Don't know precisely what happened to the body of the girlfriend, but she's not connected to the Heisenberg case as far as anybody knows and, in my experience, the cops don't spend too much time worrying about dead ex-junkies. Presuming the Nazis just left her there, which I don't imagine they would.

Last the cops knew, Jesse was throwing away money, and the DEA took over that case, theoretically, although Hank and Gomez weren't really keeping files on it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:31 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's fiction. Jesse is free.
posted by planetesimal at 7:31 PM on September 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


Also, I saw a commercial where he becomes a race card driver under an assumed name, or something.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:32 PM on September 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


Did I miss Hank's wife getting greased? There were numerous scenes of the two of them interacting.
posted by nevercalm at 7:32 PM on September 29, 2013


I was so worried that this was going to just to rip my heart out with the ending. These last few episodes have been basically doing that in slow motion. I can't tell you how relieved I am that it ended the way it did, I feel really at peace with it. A good ending.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:33 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Interesting thought: Walt wanted Jesse in the room, to kill him. When he saw his state, he decided to save him.

Did I miss Hank's wife getting greased?

Hank's wife is still alive.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 PM on September 29, 2013


You get to have a closed ending (Walt) and an open ending (Jesse). Nicely done.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:33 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


As far as Marie knows, Jesse was working with Hank and Gomez when they all went missing.
posted by maggieb at 7:34 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sure two living people know about Jesse: Skyler and Marie. Skyler won't ever say a word, and Marie just knew him as sort of informant that could help bring Walt down. No one's looking for Jesse.
posted by tyllwin at 7:34 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


But there was this whole thing about Jesse somehow being free and redeemed. His isn't. He's in for a lifetime of hiding a la Walt in New England. He just got to drive away yelling.
posted by nevercalm at 7:35 PM on September 29, 2013


.
posted by lalochezia at 7:35 PM on September 29, 2013


He's in for a lifetime of hiding a la Walt in New England.

How do you figure?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:36 PM on September 29, 2013


Marie was voracious, and there are dead feds. That would just go away? Really?
posted by nevercalm at 7:36 PM on September 29, 2013


Also: in felina, the song, the wounded gunman goes back to his love and dies by her.....

whoa.
posted by lalochezia at 7:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [30 favorites]


On Talking Bad Gilligan is talking about the end of The Searchers and John Wayne hugging Natalie Wood and not being able to kill her and comparing it to Walt and Jesse and I'm going to cry now
posted by nicebookrack at 7:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel that Jesse is free and redeemed, for sure.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:36 PM on September 29, 2013


Jimmy Kimmel: "I'm worried about sales of Stevia now"
posted by nicebookrack at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's in for a lifetime of hiding a la Walt in New England.

Yes, in his own New Yankee Workshop.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Jesse's no where near as famous as Walt. He needs to move to Alabama or some such, sure, but one he's done that, and changed his name, he's fine. He can go about his life, building beautiful boxes made of wood (who knew!?)
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jimmy Kimmel: "I'm worried about sales of Stevia now"

I totally thought the same thing.
posted by nevercalm at 7:37 PM on September 29, 2013


He's in for a lifetime of hiding a la Walt in New England.

Where he makes baby coffins or wait what was that thing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


He will go to Alaska in the El Camino. Smoke dope and make pretty boxes.
posted by maggieb at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really? The dead girlfriend plus Hanks wife is something they would totally tie up and hunt him forever.
posted by nevercalm at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2013


I say Jesse is legally free (barring the confession tape) but I'm pretty sure he's still gonna need therapy for all the PTSD. Good thing he's got that woodworking headstart.
posted by zix at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesse gets away. Gilligan's gift to the fans -- that's all there is to it. I'm good.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


I feel like I'm going to need to watch the entire episode again tomorrow, sans commercials. There were so many that I didn't feel like I could settle in and be in watching-Breaking-Bad mode until the last fifteen minutes.
posted by brina at 7:40 PM on September 29, 2013


Here's the ending music. Baby Blue by Badfinger
posted by hellojed at 7:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to think that too...but cmon. In this day and age? You exist like that? They don't pore through all sorts of records? Marie was tenacious. Am I just overthinking this? Jesse is doomed until they catch him.
posted by nevercalm at 7:41 PM on September 29, 2013


Where he makes baby coffins or wait what was that thing.

A pretty box.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I say Jesse is legally free (barring the confession tape)

That was destroyed -- there was a shot in a previous episode where a SWAT team or something shows up at Hank's house and there's video tape all over the floor.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:42 PM on September 29, 2013


The dead girlfriend plus Hanks wife is something they would totally tie up and hunt him forever.

The dead girlfriend would tie up what? Marie's done. She got mixed up in the investigation and probably feels guilt over Hank's death. She's done and she's concentrating on family.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:42 PM on September 29, 2013


Marie is the wife of a dead Federal Agent. How is she going to get the DEA to track down Jessie? She's got zero pull.

No, they'll close the book as soon as they realize they have Walt's body.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:43 PM on September 29, 2013


That was destroyed -- there was a shot in a previous episode where a SWAT team or something shows up at Hank's house and there's video tape all over the floor.

Uh... Is that a joke re: "tape," or did you forget about the very next scene?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:43 PM on September 29, 2013


Marie will drop it because she finally gets to bury her husband.
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


That, too. Even more so.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:43 PM on September 29, 2013


The talk about what happens to Jesse reminds me of the end of The Gift:
Good-by, my book! Like mortal eyes, imagined ones must close some day. Onegin from his knees will rise - but his creator strolls away. And yet the ear cannot right now part with the music and allow the tale to fade; the chords of fate itself continue to vibrate; and no obstruction for the sage exists where I have put The End; the shadows of my world extend beyond the skyline of the page, blue as tomorrow's morning haze - nor does this terminate the phrase.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:44 PM on September 29, 2013


Oh, and I cried all the way through the scene with Holly.
posted by ColdChef at 7:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Marie is the wife of a dead Federal Agent. How is she going to get the DEA to track down Jessie? She's got zero pull.

Have you ever known a dead cop's wife? I think I'm overthinking this. I don't see her ever ceasing to go nuts over this.
posted by nevercalm at 7:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I often work with the wives of deceased police officers. She will have no influence. Police departments move on quickly. They don't dwell on departmental deaths. If they did, they'd never get anything done.
posted by ColdChef at 7:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, I was wrong. I thought that Walt would be the last one standing. That the lesson would be that to take the road that Walt took was to risk the annihilation of everything that he said he held dear. That he should have to live with the guilt for all the destruction he caused. I thought that Jesse would die, either because Walt killed him or because Walt was responsible for his death, and that possibly even Walt's family would be killed indirectly thru Walt's actions. But that Walt would have to go on living with the grim, unbearable, haunting knowledge of having caused everyone he cared about to be ground into dust. Having Walt die seems to be letting him off too easy.
posted by marsha56 at 7:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I wonder what the numbers were like for the season premiere of Family Guy...
posted by Sys Rq at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Holly scene broke my heart in a good way. She was the one good mistake Walt made.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:50 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only thing
I would change
is when he
saw the lab.

And before it was all
over...

He would have

one.
last.
cook.
posted by symbioid at 7:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Have you ever known a dead cop's wife? I think I'm overthinking this. I don't see her ever ceasing to go nuts over this.

You're overthinking this.

By the time we get to the events of the finale, Brock's mom has been dead for, what, half a year. Walt was away for a long time. If there were any indication that anyone tied her death to Jesse, it would have come up on the show. No one's looking for him. His future is uncertain, in a lot of ways, but he has a future.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Marie almost certainly assumes Jesse died with her husband. They were working together.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have one nitpick about the last two episodes. Walt should have been easy to track in snowy NH.
posted by maggieb at 7:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically what I'm saying is that living cops freak out about dead cops. Multiple dead Feds cause living Feds to lose their minds. They will forever hunt. Even just for fun. There's always a friend that watches the kid grow up. I just think that if Walt was national news, as was said, Jesse doesn't just sail off into the sunset. I really want him to, it would make me really happy. I want Jesse to live and prosper. I just think it's a big loose end. And the thing is so tightly written and well done, any weird little loose end makes me wonder. So maybe it's not made to be so cut and dry. Is the Sopranos a lesson?
posted by nevercalm at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just fell a little more in love with Bryan Cranston for using the word "trepidatious" in a sentence.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was a little disappointed to find out the skinheads have better money management skills than anyone else on the show. They apparently didn't spend any of those tens of millions of dollars buying better cars, clothes, or lairs.
posted by ColdChef at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Multiple dead Feds cause living Feds to lose their minds.

They have the killer. They have no reason to think Jesse killed them, or is even alive.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:56 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have one nitpick about the last two episodes.

Seeing Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul shill Breaking Bad merch on the aftershow?
posted by wensink at 7:56 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mentioned "Heisenberg Uncertainty" before in reference to the ending, but maybe that IS intentional: we don't know where Jesse is going or what he's going to do, but he's just not here anymore...
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:56 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


marsha56, I think that's a fair point, and one I'm struggling with some, too.

Walt got redemption, at least a little bit. I'm not sure he earned it, and I'm not sure he deserved it.

I think the only way the story could end is with him dead. But with him dead, getting to say good bye to Holly, taking out Lydia and Uncle Jack and Flynn (probably) getting the money? I dunno.

Vince Gilligan is on record repeatedly saying he think Walt turned into a total monster. But here, at the end, he let him put things right. It's a satisfying ending, but I'll always wonder if the ending where Walt remains a monster wouldn't be a better one, dramatically.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:57 PM on September 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Uh... Is that a joke re: "tape," or did you forget about the very next scene?

Nope, definitely forgot the very next scene -- the Nazis watching the confession? Yeah, fair, I'd completely missed that.

I still think everything turned out well for Jesse and no one will ever convince me otherwise. I mean, obviously not well because he's got his demons God knows, but as well as possible.

As far as I'm concerned he reconciles with his parents, becomes a mentor to his younger brother, starts taking woodworking classes and adopts Brock* and helps him do well in school and shows his family how responsible he can be and goes to make amends to Marie who is just glad that he was helping Hank and giving Hank hope in his final days of life and then Jesse settles down and helps Badger and Skinny Pete find good jobs and they are really grateful to him and respect him a lot and eventually everyone, Jesse and his brother and his parents and Brock and Marie and Badger and Skinny Pete and Saul who is there for some reason sit down together for Thanksgiving dinner and Jesse looks around the table at all the people who love and respect him and are glad he is there and finally there is a perfect moment during which he is completely at peace.

*Bmineral
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:58 PM on September 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


Tweet from @sp0ka:

He woke up next to Jane Kaczmarek and said, "I had the weirdest dream I was running a meth lab in Albuquerque..."
posted by emjaybee at 7:59 PM on September 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have one nitpick about the last two episodes.

It turns out it wasn't "that doesn't look like New England snow, that looks like snow from Utah or something". Huh.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:59 PM on September 29, 2013


As far as I'm concerned he reconciles with his parents, becomes a mentor to his younger brother, starts......

Holy shit I want that, like more than anything. I love Jesse as the redeemed moral center of the show. Maybe I'm a massive pessimist, or convinced about the totality of the new US surveillance state, but I don't see anyone walking away without at least being hassled. I wish someone could make the case.
posted by nevercalm at 8:01 PM on September 29, 2013


What happened to break up grey matter!? We'll never know.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:01 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


*Bmineral

You get all the favorites for that.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:03 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Just repeat to yourself 'It's just a show,
I should really just relax.'"
posted by entropicamericana at 8:04 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Nobody really knows what happened to Tony Soprano. There's no way to know what will happen to Jesse. I think that's kind of the point.

The characters either exist (or don't) beyond our concept of the show. So the show never ends.

That's good TV.
posted by Cyrano at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2013


Walt died with the knowledge that he finally reached a reluctant student and turned Jesse into a competent chemist. What more can any teacher ask for?
posted by procrastination at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [53 favorites]


But aren't Jessie's fingerprints going to be alllll over that meth lab?
posted by ssmith at 8:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


What happened to break up grey matter!? We'll never know.

We know everything we need to know about that. Walt got pissy over some slight, real or imagined, and walked out on Gretchen and Grey Matter. It doesn't matter what the specific slight was- the point is that walt takes things super personally and that this basically ruined his life.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:08 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Just repeat to yourself "It's just a show,
I should really just relax"


I work in TV, spend more time making television than watching it, and spend many, many hours picking this shit apart. I'm plenty relaxed. I'm trying to game out what I think is a pretty immaculately written, incredibly well-made show. I often say that I don't watch TV unless I'm getting paid to do it. This show is about as perfect a show as has ever been made. I'm asserting that if there is a hole, they're so good that it's there for a reason.
posted by nevercalm at 8:09 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


My pre-season predictions: not right. I figured Jesse's brother would be on meth, Skylar would smoke the ricin cigarette, and Walt Jr.'s severed head would slide down the White roof like the uncut pizza, as a warning to Walt that he couldn't walk away.
posted by thelonius at 8:09 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sequel: access to millions of dollars corrupts Flynn utterly
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm a massive pessimist, or convinced about the totality of the new US surveillance state, but I don't see anyone walking away without at least being hassled.

Where exactly are they going to find Jesse to hassle him?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 PM on September 29, 2013


Skylar would smoke the ricin cigarette

The cigarette was never meant to be the delivery method for the ricin, it was in a glass vial, how would that even work
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just wished we had seen more of what happened between Walt and Elliot and Gretchen at Gray Matter during the series. Seriously, the man worked with the team that won the 1985 Nobel prize and he's teaching high school? Biggest plot whole of the whole series. I guess that wasn't part of the whole "Mr. Chips turns into Scarface" thing though. Oh well. Aside from that the whole thing was perfection. Seeing the finale made me want to watch the series again, which is something I hadn't felt before.
posted by bookman117 at 8:11 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the time, I thought it was in the cigarette (the vial was in fact removed sometime in Season 4, so I was way off), and why else did Skylar go back to smoking, I reasoned.
posted by thelonius at 8:12 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sequel: access to millions of dollars corrupts Flynn utterly

SO MUCH BREAKFAST
posted by naju at 8:13 PM on September 29, 2013 [44 favorites]


Where exactly are they going to find Jesse to hassle him?

I don't know. But with no access to the barrels of cash, not being as smart or as manipulative as Walt, being more the guy who gets pushed than does the pushing? I mean, I'd love to buy that he just sails away. I really do. I'm invested in the show, the characters, the story. I'm literally just wondering why there seems to be this tunnel in the ending that might say something.
posted by nevercalm at 8:13 PM on September 29, 2013


Plus, being poor, having no future contacts and basically not being able to ever access the grid again? Walt could do the whole no digital signature thing, but never Jesse. I think he's alive and drove away...and I love him, but he's fucked. I give it a year. And I wonder if the impending "Better Call Saul" thing is related.
posted by nevercalm at 8:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]



"Just repeat to yourself 'It's just a show,
I should really just relax.'"


No, it's a story.

As soon as we humans learn to communicate, we crave story. We make them up. We tell them to each other. We listen with rapt attention as people tell them to us. There is little more powerful influence on the human psyche than story.

And Breaking Bad is a fantastic story.

If you don't want to talk about, that's cool. But don't shit on those of us who do, OK?
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Mike on Talking Bad agrees that Jesse is coming back to take care of Brock! IT IS DECIDED.

Someone write for me / direct me to all the fanfic with Jesse coming back in 5-10 years and meeting Holly. My heart will grow 3 sizes.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


But with no access to the barrels of cash, not being as smart or as manipulative as Walt, being more the guy who gets pushed than does the pushing?

He's grown. The last scene with Walt made clear that he's no longer being pushed by Walt, that he made the choice to make his own decision. He walks off, knowing he got almost as good as Walt at making Meth. The daydreaming sequence indicates he's dreaming of being in the wood shop again. To me, that says he walks with his demons, but eventually find peace not in drugs or other people, but in working with wood.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, the man worked with the team that won the 1985 Nobel prize and he's teaching high school? Biggest plot whole of the whole series.

Couldn't agree more. I was never able to find it mentioned in rewatching the episodes, but according the Breaking Bad Wiki, Walt had taken a job at Sandia labs after leaving Grey Matter.
posted by wensink at 8:19 PM on September 29, 2013


If you don't want to talk about, that's cool. But don't shit on those of us who do, OK?

Don't be melodramatic. I'm not shitting on anybody.

People are picking apart the ending and missing the meaning of Jesse's drive into the night—he's free. For right now, he is free. Free from the Nazis, free of meth, free of Walt. Whatever comes tomorrow, right now, he is free. It was hardly the most implausible thing in the show.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:20 PM on September 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


But aren't Jessie's fingerprints going to be alllll over that meth lab?

Why would they fingerprint the lab?

They found the lab where Walter White's signature blue meth was being manufactured. Inside it, they also found Walter White.

This show is about as perfect a show as has ever been made. I'm asserting that if there is a hole, they're so good that it's there for a reason.

There is no hole. No one is looking for Jesse. A surveillance state is run by humans, not an all-seeing magic robo-eye - you won't be found if no one is looking for you. If he were at all relevant to the investigation, it would have come up in the half-year since Walt disappeared. It didn't. No one even mentioned him. We saw Marie talking to Skyler, on the day when the case became hot again, and she said nothing about Pinkman at all. If he were an individual of any concern, he'd have come up in conversation. You are definitely overthinking this.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:20 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


He's grown. The last scene with Walt made clear that he's no longer being pushed by Walt, that he made the choice to make his own decision. He walks off, knowing he got almost as good as Walt at making Meth. The daydreaming sequence indicates he's dreaming of being in the wood shop again. To me, that says he walks with his demons, but eventually find peace not in drugs or other people, but in working with wood.

But he's still Jesse who, loveable as he may be, is more grown mathematically than developmentally. And he now has to spend the rest of his life dodging his history of being the right-hand-man to the meth king of basically ever. He has Walter's skills at making meth, kinda, without any of his wisdom, other than having a much more basic but intense morality.
posted by nevercalm at 8:23 PM on September 29, 2013


Flynn can now buy all the bacon and eggs.
posted by Mick at 8:23 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flynn has some epic breakfasts in his future.
posted by ssmith at 8:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


But with no access to the barrels of cash, not being as smart or as manipulative as Walt, being more the guy who gets pushed than does the pushing?

Wait, I got it. JESSE KNOWS WHERE THE MONEY IS.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Props to Pater Aletheias for finding Felina a couple of weeks ago.
posted by maggieb at 8:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


People are picking apart the ending and missing the meaning of Jesse's drive into the night—he's free. For right now, he is free. Free from the Nazis, free of meth, free of Walt. Whatever comes tomorrow, right now, he is free. It was hardly the most implausible thing in the show.

Nah, we're just saying you're missing the long game. It's all well and good to drive away without Nazis hanging off of the car. But tomorrow? This is a very well-written show. If there's a gap, you can almostly certainly assume it's there for a reason. What about three years from now? Walt made elaborate arrangements for money. They thought of almost everything. Seriously, it's fun to think about. We're not missing anything, we're thinking about what's next.
posted by nevercalm at 8:26 PM on September 29, 2013


And he now has to spend the rest of his life dodging his history of being the right-hand-man to the meth king of basically ever.

You keep saying this, but no one is looking for him at all.

He has Walter's skills at making meth, kinda, without any of his wisdom, other than having a much more basic but intense morality.

Yeah, something tells me Jesse won't be making meth, but will be off by himself, making wood things. I'm not sure what you're finding that hard to accept.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Inside it, they also found Walter White.

Nice touch seeing the Feds walked past him on the ground, as if Walt had already been forgotten. Or was unrecognized. And I was pleased to see the camera movement in the last shot call back to "Crawl Space" (S04/E11), one of my top-five favorite episodes.
posted by wensink at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they fingerprint the lab they can fingerprint the handcuffs too.

I'm asserting that if there is a hole, they're so good that it's there for a reason.

There's a hole because there is no earthly way to erase all evidence of Jesse's involvement. Aside from killing Marie, Skyler, most of the Albuquerque PD and DEA, and nuking the Nazi lab, there's not much more the writers could have done to let Jesse be free. There were no clues (not for lack of opportunity--Marie, Skyler, Charlie Rose, Skinny Pete/Badger, the police) to indicate that Jesse was still on anyone's radar.

He is a recovering addict, with an extensive criminal history, with no money, who is very good at one thing that he must keep a secret forever. Handcrafted wooden boxes are not quite as hot a commodity as meth. If the series continued his future might be very bleak. The writers could have shown us a flash forward showing something cheesy, like Jesse registering for his first chemistry class in college. Or him testifying in court, or rotting away in prison. They didn't. We are meant to know that Jesse drives away and that is it. IMO there are no clues one way or another.

Given that I'm fairly confident there is no hidden message or intent, I'm going to return to appreciating this as a work of fiction now.

Nah, we're just saying you're missing the long game.
We? There's more than one person pushing this point to the detriment of the larger conversation??
posted by acidic at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


At the time, I thought it was in the cigarette (the vial was in fact removed sometime in Season 4, so I was way off), and why else did Skylar go back to smoking, I reasoned.

Walt loved Skyler. Not enough to let it keep him from becoming a selfish, power-hungry monster who justifies the worst of his evil deeds by claiming he's only doing it for his family. But I think Walt in his own warped way always still loved Skyler. His holding her psychologically hostage and forcing her to get in even deeper into crime with him was that much more despicable because of it.

Jesse won't have an easy time ahead of him, but he's learned how to stay out of real trouble. And he now knows a lot better than most how much playing gangster can cost, so he'll probably avoid serious crime. Probably still smoke pot for a while, then clean up and try to get Brock out of the foster care system. I think Jesse'll do all right. At least, he could, if his temper doesn't blow it.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


We? There's more than one person pushing this point to the detriment of the larger conversation??

Sorry. Read "people" and responded "we." I'll shut up.
posted by nevercalm at 8:34 PM on September 29, 2013


It's more Michael Haneke style (Funny Games) than Vince Gilligan, but part of me wouldn't mind seeing BB end with a final shot of WW breaking the fourth wall and staring back at us silently as the screen fades to black.
posted to MetaFilter by wensink at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2013


Thanks, Mr. Gilligan!
posted by wensink at 8:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesse's ordeal has made him a MASTER OF CHEMISTRY. So he drives straight to Lydia's and cures her ricin headache with chemistry. Then they adopt Brock and open a molecular gastronomy restaurant called CHEM-O-MEAL.
posted by oulipian at 8:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [20 favorites]


So, a small time criminal gets caught throwing stacks of cash around ABQ and with millions more in his car. Soon after, two DEA agents go missing (one of which questioned our small time criminal). Months later, his fingerprints are found all over a meth lab in the desert.

Now I'm no law enforcement expert, but I can't see how Jesse can stay out of jail, much less stay in town.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 8:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Amazing ending. Some of what I predicted came true, but I didn't see Walt's redemption coming. (I was hoping for it but I couldn't see how Vince Gilligan and the other writers could pull it off.) To have him finally-- finally!-- admit his true motivations to himself and Skyler was a master stroke of character development.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:46 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Walt deserved what redemption he got. Down to the end, for all his considerable monstrosity, for all the horrors he wreaked upon the innocent, he managed to hold onto his humanity. I kept expecting for something to snap, even in this episode, as he snuck into the mansion, as he pointed the gun at Jesse... but no. To the end, he remained a man, and a man who (as a deeply flawed person and not some unholy incarnation of evil) is responsible for all the wrong he did.

And in the end, he recognized that wrong, and he returned to (somewhat) right it. He recognized it, I think, the second the Nazis showed up in the desert, and then was forced to see it again when they killed Hank, again when Skyler cut him, again when Flynn called the cops, again when Holly called out for her mother...

Breaking Bad is a weaker show when we are given permission to wholly loathe Walt. It becomes Funny Games, an experiment with toying an audience around rather than a narrative about what it means to be human, to be good and evil.

Walt's genius is what allowed him to break bad. Denying him that genius in the end would have even undercutting the message that genius is no excuse. Refusing to let him make things right, in his twisted, broken way, would have been to suggest that there is something monstrous to his brilliance, when the monstrosity was him and his failed moral compass all along. When he recognizes that, it is too late to make things go back, but it is still possible to act again, and I think it is a powerful message to suggest that while there are points of no return, there are points to reach yet. I also think it's powerful that within the one good thing Walt achieved for his family, giving Walt Jr. that money, there will always be a legacy of evil and corruption which not even Flynn will fully understand.

For all Breaking Bad just ended with a deceptively simple, cathartic, and satisfying bang, it would be a mistake to say that this show's outlook on its characters is itself simple. In fact, every time a critic made a mistake when predicting this show, it was because they relied too heavily on their own simple interpretations of these characters, not allowing for the show's ability to make a man both a hero and a villain, a monster and a savior, at once the cause of and the solution to his own problems. That's what makes Walt as powerful a character as he is, and maybe the greatest character in television history.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [37 favorites]


RIP the awkward budding romance between Todd and Lydia. Also RIP the wonderful sartorial sense of Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, style icon for the ages.
posted by naju at 8:49 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also RIP the wonderful sartorial sense of Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, style icon for the ages.

It's like her wardrobe was poisoned too.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:51 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Now I'm no law enforcement expert, but I can't see how Jesse can stay out of jail, much less stay in town.

What are they going to arrest him for? What will he be charged with? Where will they find him?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on September 29, 2013


Brandon Blatcher: "What are they going to arrest him for? What will he be charged with? Where will they find him?"

Tax evasion.
posted by boo_radley at 9:03 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're not going to fingerprint the lab, or the handcuffs, because they won't see any reason to -- they've got their kingpin, and they've got the dead gang who killed their officers, obviously dead by Walt's hand. They're going to take a victory lap, not investigate harder.

They could find Jesse if they bothered to look, but they won't because (1) they don't want to spend days doing forensics, they want to claim a win. Jesse complicates a story that they don't want complicated, and (2) only Hank and Gomez had any idea that Jesse was even tied to Walt at all, much less a major player.
posted by tyllwin at 9:08 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


Doesn't Jesse use gloves for all the cooks? Even in the last shot of him cooking he's wearing huge rubber gloves. I don't think his fingerprints are going to be on many of the things in the lab.

In a lot of the news clippings he's cited as being "missing" and now he has a beard and looks nothing like how he used to. All the other eye witnesses are dead. So at best they have circumstantial evidence.

They're going to find walt's fingerprints all over the car/place and judge it as a murder-suicide I think.
posted by hellojed at 9:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sepinwall. Now. Go.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 PM on September 29, 2013


"The Sopranos" was cited, and that's the finale that's cast a shadow over everything that's come after, asking creators what kind of show they want to be making and fans what kind of show they want to be watching.

Yeah, comparing it to some other notable "event" finales, better than any of them: better than the Sopranos, which was in turn better than BSG, which still beat Lost. Just making an ending that isn't going to be widely loathed deserves some props, I think.
posted by tyllwin at 9:21 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


What fantasy world are you living in that you think Jesse has even the slightest chance of becoming a caretaker for Brock? "Yes, hello child protective services, I'd like to register to foster this child. Why yes, I do have a history of drug addiction, and I have a long history of arrests relating to drug charges and other various felonies, and in fact at the moment I'm out on bail with charges pending in a case involving my possession of millions of dollars of drug money. As a matter of fact, I'm a single man in my 20s with no current employment, no documented work experience, no personal references, no college education or qualifications. I do happen to look like absolute trembling shit at the moment, yes, that would be on account of the horrific PTSD that I suffer from. But I did date his mother for like a couple of months, so I think that qual--hello? Hello?"
posted by Rhomboid at 9:25 PM on September 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


Feh.

It's satisfying if you're Walt's fantasy, or if you think Jesse deserved something, but it's not so great if you wanted Aristotle (catharis of the DIY mech-M60 notwithstanding) or Scarface.

Quite an achievement nonetheless. In future watchings I think I'll stop at the penultimate episode.
posted by notyou at 9:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Disagree with Sepinwall's argument that this was too perfect of an ending. Agree with him that the last two episodes weren't really about Heisenberg at all, but disagree with him that this show was about Heisenberg.

Watching Ghost Walt this episode was an astonishingly powerful, tense experience. A character so powerful and frightening that even when he does nothing, he commands all your attention... that is one for the ages. And this show had no reason to leave any ends open.

Where the loose-end-ness will happen is where it is already happening: in countless arguments about when Walt broke bad, when the line was crossed, when he was acting selfishly and when he had somebody else in his heart, where the greed and arrogance ends and the caring begins. There is no real answer, no definitive logical argument to be made for when we ought to have started loathing him and when we ought to have maybe cared for him. My personal take on it is not yours, and neither of us is correct.

The ending puts the attention back on the real important part of Breaking Bad, rather than on the less important things like "what's going to happen next?" and "does XYZ make it out okay?" and "does Jesse ultimately become Brock's foster father?" Even though HE OBVIOUSLY DOES. DON'T EVEN PRETEND LIKE YOU THINK OTHERWISE OR THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I SWEAR, I'LL SOCK YA ALL I MEAN IT
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


wensink: "Nice touch seeing the Feds walked past him on the ground, as if Walt had already been forgotten. "

I don't think that was the point of that shot - some of the police kept moving forward to keep clearing the room while two stayed with their guns on Walt. It was more about making the room safe.
posted by bluecore at 9:26 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The whole show was a Greek tragedy.

If you're obsessing about fingerprints you're missing it.

Hubris. That's it. That's the whole thing.
posted by Cyrano at 9:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [21 favorites]


Aristotle's Poetics is some finely-thought shit but if you think Aristotle wouldn't've seen this and been like, "Oh damn, maybe I need to write a Poetics II about how awesome machine gun cars are," then you are assuming way more stodginess on the parts of the ancient Greeks than there actually definitely was.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:28 PM on September 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


Walt finally took Jesse's advice and built a robot.

A Nazi-killing robot.
posted by duvatney at 9:29 PM on September 29, 2013 [68 favorites]


Walt beats hubris. That's what his conversation with Skyler ends with. He knows. It lays him low, then he stands over it and vanquishes all.

His only miscalculation - that whole convoluted scheme, stevia, robogun, all of it, is that Jesse doesn't shoot him.

Good for them (no snark) that they wrapped it all up.
posted by notyou at 9:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was surprised how after the, um, machine, lets say, did it's job, that during the staredown moment between the two survivors, how much Walter White had a dead-on Clint Eastwood look to him - even the little facial twitch and the squint was there. That was perhaps the best thing to me about the episode. It amazed me because it was so natural - it wasn't an impression of Eastwood or a subtle nod or reference, it was the look that comes out of a character that had fully formed through an actor that is skilled enough to let it happen.
posted by chambers at 9:37 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would totally rather buy a fancy wooden box than buy Tuco's grill or whatever in that auction.
posted by box at 9:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, comparing it to some other notable "event" finales, better than any of them: better than the Sopranos, which was in turn better than BSG, which still beat Lost. Just making an ending that isn't going to be widely loathed deserves some props, I think.

Yo, Breaking Bad, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Six Feet Under had one of the best finales of all time. OF ALL TIME!
posted by onlyconnect at 9:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Before I even start reading the comments or posting thoughts about the finale of my own: Holy crap what a perfect post for this.
posted by sparkletone at 9:42 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just wished we had seen more of what happened between Walt and Elliot and Gretchen at Gray Matter during the series. Seriously, the man worked with the team that won the 1985 Nobel prize and he's teaching high school? Biggest plot whole of the whole series. I guess that wasn't part of the whole "Mr. Chips turns into Scarface" thing though. Oh well. Aside from that the whole thing was perfection. Seeing the finale made me want to watch the series again, which is something I hadn't felt before.
posted by bookman117 at 8:11 PM on September 29 [+] Favorite removed! [!]


Sure the show had plot holes, and I thought the last episode was meh but this particular plot twist has happened in real life at least once e.g. Douglas Prasher could have shared the 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry but he wound up being a courtesy van driver for a car dealership instead
posted by Bwithh at 9:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't see how the "way out" Walt gives Skylar is supposed to work - she tells the Feds that she won't give up her hero brother-in-law DEA agent's body (and hero Gomez DEA agent's too) unless she gets immunity?? Why would the Feds go for that??? rather than, say, throwing her in jail for suggesting the idea
posted by Bwithh at 9:51 PM on September 29, 2013


at 8:11 PM on September 29 [+] Favorite removed! [!]

harsh
posted by maggieb at 9:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


His actual gift to Skyler was his death -- no one can claim that she's aiding a dead person by not revealing information.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


'Cause they got everybody else. Skyler was only ever a lever to get Walt, as far as the feds knew.
posted by notyou at 9:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Six Feet Under had one of the best finales of all time. OF ALL TIME!

Breaking Bad had the right ending - not epic, not open-ended, not over-the-top, just... appropriate and clean. That is no small thing to achieve.

If I were ranking endings to find the best from everything I have ever watched, the top two would be the endings of Blake's 7 and The Prisoner (the 1967 original version, of course). I refuse to link them because they would be meaningless without having seen the stories progress, and would spoil it for those who might check them out someday - and I highly recommend - no - implore you to do so.
posted by chambers at 9:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've only watched one Breaking Bad episode ever, and don't care if I see another, but I just wanted to say that Rhaomi wins MetaFilter. Wow.
posted by not_on_display at 9:55 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


at 8:11 PM on September 29 [+] Favorite removed! [!]

harsh
posted by maggieb at 9:53 PM on September 29 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


heh. I had just favorited it and then I remembered Prasher. Sorry, bookman117.
posted by Bwithh at 9:55 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Considering all the great use of thematic music, especially in the last episode ("El Paso/Felina", "Baby Blue", and didn't we hear "Lydia the Tatooed Lady"?) I have to wonder (as a non-completist viewer), if they ever used the great Oingo Boingo song "Grey Matter", and if not, WHY NOT?
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:56 PM on September 29, 2013


"Walt finally took Jesse's advice and built a robot.

A Nazi-killing robot.
"

I hate To'hajiilee Nazis.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:57 PM on September 29, 2013


There are a thousand foremen picking up guys on street corners for construction work; Jesse has woodworking skills and the body-lifting upper-arm strength of a badass. Jesse's going to be fine (especially after he gets therapy).

Apropos of none of that, my read on the not-quite-last scene, which broke my heart: I'm probably stating the obvious, but I don't believe Walt had any previous intention to save Jesse. He was already murderously angry with the Nazis, and he was even angrier at the mental image of the Nazis and Jesse being smug partners living the high life off Walt's legacy, one more betrayal by Jesse. Walt was going to kill the Nazis and himself in a glorious robot-murder-suicide, and if he gets Jesse at the same time, so much the better. (He wants Jesse in that room!)

Then Jesse shows up, clearly in hell, and Walt realizes he doesn't enjoy Jesse suffering like this, and by extension he doesn't want Jesse to die. No choice but to fling himself to save the kid and hope the glorious death part works itself out later.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:57 PM on September 29, 2013 [21 favorites]


There's ricin in the stevia!
posted by dilaudid at 9:59 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh Jesse. I hoped and hoped he'd make it, but never thought he would. And he even got to strangle that creepy fucker Todd. I might have done a little fist-bump in the air when that happened.

No real surprise moments, but oh man, it worked. Walt got some redemption, but he also secured his legacy--everyone will think he's been cooking the blue in there the whole time.

Also, Badger and Skinny Pete! I squeed a little when they got in Walt's car.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:59 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was really happy to see Badger and Skinny Pete one last time.

That was a damn fine episode, and this is an amazing post. I can already see my productivity at work this week tanking horribly as I churn through all those links...
posted by palomar at 10:01 PM on September 29, 2013


So about that watch that he left on top of the payphone. Was that supposed to prove that he was there (wherever there was) when and if the call was traced, to provide a false lead to his location to keep law enforcement busy? That seemed like an awful stretch to me. The cops would only know that he had called if the Schwartzes reported the incident, which I'm inclined to think that they would not do with the fear of god that he instilled.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:06 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


At least no one became a lumberjack.
posted by macadamiaranch at 10:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


So about that watch that he left on top of the payphone.
Yeah, I dunno what that was about. The watch was an expensive birthday gift from Jesse to Walt
posted by Bwithh at 10:07 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was a continuity error with the watch in the flash forward last season (Walt didn't have the watch in the diner). This is their way of fixing it.

Also I'm sure you can come up with some symbolic meaning for it.
posted by dilaudid at 10:09 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


The watch thing was on Talking Bad: apparently it was literally for continuity reasons; Walt didn't have a watch when they filmed the flash-forward at the start of the season, then Jesse gave him the watch for his birthday and he wore it all the time, then the writers were like "OH SHIT CONTINUITY."

The artsy-fartsy reason (sic) Gilligan gave was something like Walt realizing "Jesse gave me this watch! Jesse is my archnemesis...one of my archnemeses...I don't need this archnemesis watch anymore."
posted by nicebookrack at 10:11 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


At least no one became a lumberjack.

I wouldn't rule it out for Jesse.

One other unanswered question: What happened to Huell?
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:14 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesse becoming a lumberjack in Alaska would actually be a very happy ending in his case. Making his wooden furniture from trees that he felled!
posted by nicebookrack at 10:15 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Breaking Bad had Dexter's writers (part 2) [spoilers, btw]
posted by Rhaomi at 10:16 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


It was lucky that all the Nazi guards lined up right in front of robogun's firing arc. *grumble*
posted by Bwithh at 10:21 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just realized that while he was held captive, Jesse probably missed some mandatory court appearances -- he was out on bail, remember. Therefore there's probably a bench warrant out on him. Even without the cops doing any investigating at the brotherhood compound (and I disagree with the notion that they would arrive at that scene and just decide to call it a day and not try to work out who was responsible for what) he's still not going to be totally and completely free.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:23 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can never be unhappy with anything that features a robo-machinegun.

Actually probably "shot by own robo-machinegun" is probably how people would assume I'd want to go out.
posted by Artw at 10:39 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Coming in late just to say... this is the most amazing post ever.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:39 PM on September 29, 2013


Jesse's going to be fine (especially after he gets therapy)

I actually think that Jesse's imprisonment probably freed him from a lot of the demons he'd built up over the series. I mean, he basically did a stint in hell for several months. It's hard to imagine how it could have been worse for Jesse. I suspect the literal freedom he received was also moral.
posted by fatbird at 10:40 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:40 PM on September 29, 2013


well, for that matter, also

︻╦╤─
posted by hap_hazard at 10:41 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow. I mean, just... wow. Everything I... just... wow. Lemme backtrack here a sec...

How far back do we have to go to get an ending to a teevee show as perfect as that? Buffy? DS9? Barney Miller? I dunno, but it's a loooong time. After so many let downs (BSG, LOST, I'm looking at the both of you and cringing) we finally get everything a great show can give. And what are we going to be reading for the next week? It was TOO good, too tidy, too perfect. Meh. Why would they do that? I wanted more pathos! More PLOT! What about ________?

sigh.

You spoiled sons of bitches, I say. They pulled it off, be happy about that. We got an actual ENDING. For once. We got something that wasn't cookie cutter, something that wasn't a by the book TV Tropes ending. We got exactly what we were supposed to get. And, here's the thing, it worked! And that makes me stupidly happy.

It's been a long time since I could say that about a show. Finally I can not be that asshole at the party telling people why they are wrong. Hopefully.
posted by gideonswann at 10:42 PM on September 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


Does Jesse even know how to make hand carved wooden boxes? Was that a thing in an episode?
posted by Artw at 10:43 PM on September 29, 2013


Jesse lovers should revisit his woodworking speech to the NA group, quoted in a previous thread. It explains the woodworking flashback, which doesn't come out of left field so much:

Jesse Pinkman: I took this vo-tech class in high school, woodworking. I took a lot of vo-tech classes, because it was just big jerk-off, but this one time I had this teacher by the name of... Mr... Mr. Pike. I guess he was like a Marine or something before he got old. He was hard hearing. My project for his class was to make this wooden box. You know, like a small, just like a... like a box, you know, to put stuff in. So I wanted to get the thing done as fast as possible. I figured I could cut classes for the rest of the semester and he couldn't flunk me as long as I, you know, made the thing.

So I finished it in a couple days. And it looked pretty lame, but it worked. You know, for putting in or whatnot. So when I showed it to Mr. Pike for my grade, he looked at it and said: "Is that the best you can do?" At first I thought to myself "Hell yeah, bitch. Now give me a D and shut up so I can go blaze one with my boys." I don't know. Maybe it was the way he said it, but... it was like he wasn't exactly saying it sucked. He was just asking me honestly, "Is that all you got?" And for some reason, I thought to myself: "Yeah, man, I can do better."

So I started from scratch. I made another, then another. And by the end of the semester, by like box number five, I had built this thing. You should have seen it. It was insane. I mean, I built it out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood. It was fitted with pegas, no screws. I sanded it for days, until it was smooth as glass. Then I rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark. It even smelled good. You know, you put nose in it and breathed in, it was... it was perfect.

Group Leader: What happened to the box?

Jesse Pinkman: I... I gave it to my mom.

Group Leader: Nice. You know what I'm gonna say, don't you? It's never too late. They have art co-ops that offer classes, adult extension program at the University.

Jesse Pinkman: You know, I didn't give the box to my mom. I traded it for an ounce of weed.

posted by mediareport at 10:46 PM on September 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


Slate writer makes a good point:
[Walt] also gives her the lie that will allow her, and his children, one day to accept the $9.7 million he left piled on top of the Schwartz coffee table. Walt tells Skyler he has spent all the money. He makes sure to debase himself, to give up on the triumph that has driven him all along. He’ll die broken and penniless in her eyes, and he allows for that shredding of his pride because it is what his family needs to remake itself one day. Maybe someday Skyler will be able to admit to herself that she liked it, too, and that honesty will give her the wherewithal to put her cigarette out, get up from the kitchen table, and start living again.
posted by gaspode at 10:46 PM on September 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Does Jesse even know how to make hand carved wooden boxes? Was that a thing in an episode?
posted by Artw at 10:43 PM on September 29 [+] [!]



At another group meeting, Jesse recounts being inspired by a high school woodworking teacher. At first, Jesse slacked off on the class assignment, but eventually he created an intricate box, which he says he gave to his mom. When the group leader suggests that Jesse take art classes, Jesse interrupts. "I didn't give the box to my mom," he admits. "I traded it for an ounce of weed."

posted by Bwithh at 10:46 PM on September 29, 2013


Wow. So Felina wasn't Jesse or Skyler. Felina was the meth. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


So Jesse, realistically speaking, goes to jail unless he stays on the run.

Maybe Walt's death actually weakens Skyler's legal position (less chance of plea bargain?) if there are charges she's facing? I'm assuming the "I know where the bodies are buried" proposal will be thrown back in her face.
posted by Bwithh at 10:51 PM on September 29, 2013


from the Sepinwall link: (*) As pointed out on the Internet earlier in the week, the title can be read as the chemical symbols for iron, lithium and sodium (aka "blood, meth and tears") or as an anagram for "finale." It could also be referring to the Marty Robbins' song "El Paso," which plays in the tape deck of the stolen New Hampshire car, and which features a Mexican girl by the name.

posted by Bwithh at 10:53 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


All this speculation about 'what happens to Jesse next?' is pointless. Jesse evaporated into a cloud of probability the moment S05E16 ended. ( or maybe electrons -- or some other pseudo-wavicle-of-the-week. )
posted by mikelieman at 10:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jesse may not have bags of cash, but he does, theoretically, still have a million dollar home he owns outright, legally. It might not be crazy to find a lawyer to liquidate the house, arrange for him to turn himself in on the variety of minor charges pending for failing to make court appearances, and just... move away.
posted by fatbird at 10:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is how you end a series.

I hope Damon Lindelof took notes.
posted by dobbs at 10:56 PM on September 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


a million dollar home he owns outright, legally

I'm sure the IRS would debate that.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:58 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This show is about as perfect a show as has ever been made. I'm asserting that if there is a hole, they're so good that it's there for a reason.

I like the show a lot, but that's a bit overblown. We know, for instance, that many times the writers started plots in motion without knowing how they were going to be resolved, wrote themselves into corners just to see if they could get out of them effectively (and didn't, on multiple occasions, like the weak payoff to the airplane crash stuff scattered through season 2), and pushed the bounds of plot logic pretty much any time they needed to. And there were plenty of plot holes in the finale - Walt getting in and out of Skyler's kitchen, not to mention standing in plain view of two windows with open blinds, is just the first that pops up. I don't see much reason to think the writers were *necessarily* doing anything with Jesse that's not directly in what we saw.

It's a really good show that for long stretches and lots of moments is truly brilliant, and I've been more than fanboy enough over the years, but positing that the writers are so good that any holes we're seeing surely must be there for a reason is a little much fanboyism even for me.
posted by mediareport at 11:01 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


All this speculation about 'what happens to Jesse next?' is pointless. Jesse evaporated into a cloud of probability the moment S05E16 ended. ( or maybe electrons -- or some other pseudo-wavicle-of-the-week. )

I think that Gilligan, et al, gave us everything we need to understand what happens to Jesse right within the episode. He's free, and he's giddy about it, but the freedom does not feel secure. That last shot of him was exactly the sort of shot you'd expect to see right before someone careened into the side of a building or zoomed off a cliff. Gilligan doesn't give us that kind of formal closure, though. I think what we're meant to take away is that Jesse has a chance, but it's just the barest sliver of a chance. Most likely, everything goes to hell within hours if not minutes.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:09 PM on September 29, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yes, palmcorder_yajna. That's perfect. I'd go so far as to give him a couple weeks.
posted by mediareport at 11:10 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh... Is that a joke re: "tape," or did you forget about the very next scene?

Are you suggesting the nazi's kept the tape on which Jesse implicates Todd in the murder of that kid?

Wait, I got it. JESSE KNOWS WHERE THE MONEY IS.

You must have been in the bathroom during the numerous scenes in which it was made clear that Jesse doesn't want the money.

Felina was the meth.

Felina is the name of the girl in the Marty Robbins song, El Paso. A friend also says that FeLiNa is Iron, Lithium and Sodium. Blood, Meth, Tears.
posted by dobbs at 11:17 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's be honest though, what everyone has really been waiting for is the Low Winter Sun finale next Sunday.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:18 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to think that Bryan Cranston now has next year's Emmy on layaway.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:19 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


As to Sepinwall's point about the ending being a little too pat, I think he's on the money. It was an enjoyable and satisfying conclusion that gave a bunch of us the kind of closure we want when a show ends, but looking back I think it's fair to say it didn't feel of a piece with the chaos that helped define the show, and there was something important sacrificed in having all of Walter's plans work out so perfectly at the end.

It's fair to say that. But it's also fair to say the ending worked very nicely to cap things off.
posted by mediareport at 11:19 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spoiler alert.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:20 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesse is hosed. He'll be wanted for questioning in the death of Hank. Presumably his videotaped confession will be found by the cops when they search the Nazi house. They really liked to watch it, remember? No indication there that they would have destroyed it.

The tape will reveal that he killed Gale, that he was complicit in the death of the kid on the motorcycle, that he dissolved the corpse of the bikelock guy from way back in the first season. Oh yeah, and that he cooked tons of meth.

Even if the Nazis did destroy the tape, his fingerprints are all over their high-volume meth lab. That's enough right there to send him away for a long time.

He has no access to the vacuum cleaner relocation service and has no cash to pay for it anyway, and is not smart enough and resourceful enough to live on the lam for very long. His only possible ally is Marie, and what's she gonna say when she learns that he got away from the scene of Hank's death and collaborated with his killers? The optics are pretty awful there.

Sorry all, I want better for him too, but he's going to prison.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:33 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why would they fingerprint the lab?

IANYLawenforcementprofessional.

DEA Agent Simplicio: All right, listen up! We have a warehouse sized meth lab, Nazis, Rube Goldberg's machine gun, a dozen dead bodies, the corpse of America's Most Wanted, a tiger cage, the same blue meth that's purer than any we've ever seen that just happens to have been sold recently throughout the southwest and has found its way to Europe and as federal agents we buy fingerprint powder by the ton. Never mind, I think I saw a Starbucks 5 miles back down the road!

ps Jesse lives!
pps Awesome post Rhaomi
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


At this point, I don't think prison is a bad ending for Jesse. There's no capital punishment in New Mexico. If he keeps his mouth shut and behaves himself maybe he can wind up in a place where he they let him do his woodworking. He's certainly learned how to be a model inmate.
posted by Gary at 11:39 PM on September 29, 2013


Nobody is looking for Jesse and of course the peckerwoods would have destroyed the tape. Uncle Jack was not a moron, he had it trashed immediately after watching it.
posted by Justinian at 11:40 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was happy that episodes 14 and 15 got all the really gutwrenching stuff out of the way so that the finale was just a fun, action packed joy ride with the nazis, Todd and Lydia all getting their just desserts. Loved the twist with the Grey Matter couple getting the cash. Loved that Badger and Skinny Pete got some fun money as well.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:44 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Uncle Jack destroyed the video because it indicated that his nephew Todd murdered a child.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Nobody is looking for Jesse

Marie knows he was cooperating with Hank and his body will not be found at Walt's money pit. He'll be a big fat Person of Interest in the death of two feds.

Jesse is toast.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:45 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would watch a Todd-Lydia newlyweds-in-crime spinoff
posted by Bwithh at 11:46 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a happy ending for Jesse. Maybe it won't last forever, but so what?

And I take the clean ending as just generosity from the people who made it. It was fitting and proper.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:47 PM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Uncle Jack destroyed the video because it indicated that his nephew Todd murdered a child.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:45 PM on September 29 [+] [!]


Uncle Jack could have used his iMovie and iDVD skills ( or got Todd to do it) to make a copy with the Todd parts edited out. Then he would keep the copy just in case for leverage over Walt.
posted by Bwithh at 11:49 PM on September 29, 2013


I'm going to go ahead and pretend that the wood working scene was a flash forward. I think that was Vince Gilligan letting us know where Jesse ends up.
posted by imabanana at 11:52 PM on September 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


When your television series causes internet people to have frenzied conversations about whether or not characters could use iMovie in unseen portions of the show, you have succeeded.
posted by Ghost Mode at 11:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


[Jesse's] only possible ally is Marie, and what's she gonna say when she learns that he got away from the scene of Hank's death and collaborated with his killers? The optics are pretty awful there.

Sorry all, I want better for him too, but he's going to prison.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:33 PM on September 29 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]



Jesse could hide out with Badger and Skinny Pete - they'd be friendly I think even though Jesse has got a ton of heat on him. But then they probably all get arrested.
posted by Bwithh at 11:54 PM on September 29, 2013


But then they probably all get arrested.

Badger and Skinny Pete get arrested for harboring Jesse. They then give up everything they know about Walt to the cops, including his ploy with the Schwartzes. The cops investigate the Schwartzes who eventually crack and hand over the money, go into hiding ( Grey Matter Technologies collapses) . Walt Jr. has to make do with turkey bacon forever.


(Did Eliot Schwartz actually win a Nobel? AMC site says yes. Breaking Bad wikia says it was just a nomination)
posted by Bwithh at 12:04 AM on September 30, 2013


At this point, I don't think prison is a bad ending for Jesse.

If I had a white power body on me, I would be pretty anxious about going to prison afterwards.

Sure, there's no witnesses who can finger Jesse as Todd's killer, but again, the optics are super bad -- a bunch of Nazis are dead and their onsite meth cook drove away from the scene.

Jesse is totally, completely, utterly hosed.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:11 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I killed a white power kid, I would sure be anxious about going to prison afterwards.

Still, it's sort of a better ending for Jesse than being a white power gang's slave for the rest of his life?
posted by Bwithh at 12:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I did it for me"

Breaking Bad is a show that constantly defies expectations, and the happy "wrap everything up" ending is just another example of that. It was amazing and cathartic to hear Walt finally get it, stop acting like a martyr, and be honest about who he was.

It was a little disappointing that the final enemy was random Nazis, when they were hinting so long at connections to some big powerful drug cartel. I was hoping the ending would tie into The Ballad of Heisenberg, but I guess they just couldn't get there in the end. Also why would the assasin not shoot at Gus? What was his deal, anyway? Oh well.
posted by heathkit at 12:24 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


connections to some big powerful drug cartel

I thought that was Don Eladio's guys (Gus killed him and his capos)
posted by Bwithh at 12:29 AM on September 30, 2013


Anybody notice that there was absolutely no purple in the Marie scene? It actually made me really sad.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anybody notice that there was absolutely no purple in the Marie scene? It actually made me really sad.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:35 AM on September 30 [−] [!]


On the plus side, I think the new hair look really works for her.
posted by Bwithh at 12:40 AM on September 30, 2013


There's some network exec right now saying "I have a great idea for a sequel- There's this guy runs the Cinnabon shop in the Omaha airport, and he hides out every time a flight from Albuquerque lands... We can call it 'Breaking Buns'"
posted by pjern at 12:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll just assume Jesse, Badger and S.P. head for Alaska, where they use the $200,000 and Jesse's woodworking skills to build a cabin and live alone in the wilderness for about 35 years. Although periodically they drive into town to pick up weed, play some laser tag, and stop at Cinnabon to visit the recently transferred Saul.

Yeah Bitch.
posted by mannequito at 12:46 AM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


You spoiled sons of bitches, I say. They pulled it off, be happy about that. We got an actual ENDING. For once. We got something that wasn't cookie cutter, something that wasn't a by the book TV Tropes ending. We got exactly what we were supposed to get. And, here's the thing, it worked! And that makes me stupidly happy.

Actually, I think the ending of Weeds was pretty great, for a lot of the same reasons the Breaking Bad ending was good.
posted by heathkit at 12:51 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love how Walt lay down and died in the meth lab, and you can tell that he was proud to claim it as his own. Heisenberg's legacy. He smiled, like he knew he did something right. And I can't remember the last scene where I saw him smile. Regardless, that was his last scene.

Also, strange sidenote: I'm in the US right now, visiting family and friends (I live in England). I have a list of requested things that I am bringing back for friends in York. Today I finally made it to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to find all the goodies on the list. It only occurred to me just now that I am in possession of a bottle of powdered Stevia, for my new housemate. I feel a bit weird about that now.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:00 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


"So do we get that one last epic "[x], bitch," tonight from Jesse, or did we get that in "To'hajiilee?" Any thoughts?"

Jesse gave us a final triumphant "BTCH" through clenched teeth while he was operating the lock during his escape attempt.

After watching that episode, I feel so incredibly empty. Just... wow. After reading all the recaps and comments and commentary... I'm still processing. Playing Badfinger over and over again, as my brain spins and pulls away from this show forever... for the first time. I'm going to watch it again, and possibly again and again, but there will never be another first time.

Wow.
posted by Eideteker at 1:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesse is hosed.

Maybe. After all, why would Walt come back to the meth lab all the way from New Hampshire to gun down Nazis? That seems suspicious or at least something a competent investigator would at least, well, investigate.

But for now, Jesse is free. Free as a bird. Rejoice.

Is it wrong to cheer Todd and Lydia's demise? It feels like justice, but it is murder, also. This show still makes me feel conflicted, inside.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 AM on September 30, 2013


Bah. You guys, I called "Felina" a month ago. I will now be taking my victory lap.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I had a white power body on me, I would be pretty anxious about going to prison afterwards.

As it stands now this is a dispute amongst meth dealers. If Jesse were a visible minority maybe they would kill him to send a message. But unless there's someone left to pay a bounty I'm not sure he's worth the trouble killing.

Of course, I am being charitable because he's grown on me as a character. He was also at the scene when half a dozen Mexican mafia dons were taken out. There's no shortage of people to kill him if you don't want him to have a happy ending.
posted by Gary at 2:41 AM on September 30, 2013


I didn't expect:
1) To be happy at Gretchen and Elliot's takedown. Gilligan really played it well with their 'we are the 1% and boy do we love it' house
2) To see Walt and Skylar together and this kind of love between them, that felt so credible.
3) To feel and sympathize with Walt's nostalgia as he's caressing the boiler
posted by angrycat at 2:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't think Sepinwall goes far enough.

All the other episodes prove that more crime, more murder doesn't solve your problems the way Walt and Jesse think they will. They just make things worse and more and more out of their control. Until the last episode when murder does appear to solve everything. The other "bad guys" die. Jesse lives. I think we are supposed to believe that Skyler gets away with it, and that Flynn gets to keep the money. How nice for them all.

Meanwhile Walt and Jesse over five seasons are responsible for a massive trail of death. In reality, those deaths would have caused a world of chaos for unseen others. But most of the time, we never see the others, because we're not supposed to care about anyone who cared about the other "bad guys". Because the other bad guys are never fully fleshed out characters. Many times we are supposed to cheer their deaths with a fist bump and a "Fuck yeah", sometimes with a grim, but hearty chuckle.

I will never disagree with anyone that claims that BB had superior acting, better writing, tighter plotting. But for me, I vastly prefer The Wire's more mature morality. The whole notion of good guys and bad guys and settling scores with violence is ultimately childish and sadly too firmly embedded in the American ethos. Lester tells Prez that "All the pieces matter". Simon and the entire Wire series is saying all the people matter. In the real world, there are no throw away characters. Sure the Wire had a too neatly tied up finale for many of the characters but never in a way that betrays the show's entire moral arc.
posted by marsha56 at 2:56 AM on September 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


His only miscalculation - that whole convoluted scheme, stevia, robogun, all of it, is that Jesse doesn't shoot him.

Not necessarily - he knew what Jesse thought of him after the horrible hug in the desert. Giving Jesse the chance to turn down his last attempt to use him was the best thing he could have done after freeing him. He also didn't make a move towards Todd. In a weird way, he really does seem to have had Jesse's best interests at heart in the last scene. Even better - he didn't even try to apologise to either Skyler or Jesse, like he finally understood how pointless and insulting that would be, even if it was what he wanted, though I'm not sure it was.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anybody notice that there was absolutely no purple in the Marie scene? It actually made me really sad.

I think I noticed some purple in her paintings (yes I was looking)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:37 AM on September 30, 2013


Breaking Bad was always about Walt. We get these occasional reminders of the collateral damage that he's causing (the plane crash is the most extravagant of them), but the strength of this particular story is the focus it has on Walt's story. One way in which it does it (which I think is interesting) is having other stories that crash into Walt's - for example the Gus story or the Lydia story (which has been going on for some time before we even meet her). But the series gained its strength from not doing the television thing of broadening out the scope of the story.

The Wire was about how the system fucks people over, and its strength was the methodical way in which it went about demonstrating this. Yes, it's probably a more grown-up work, though ultimately less narratively coherent. I generally agree with the Simon world view over the Gilligan one. Now Breaking Bad's all done, I'm going back to watch Treme and try and catch up, FWIW.

I think talking about The Greatest Series Ever is a mistake* - what's nice isn't that we can have a pedestal with a single Greatest Ever on it, but that we increasingly have a shelf containing a wide range of series of extraordinary quality. Breaking Bad is on that shelf, certainly, and The Wire, and I'd also put things like Pennies From Heaven and Edge of Darkness on there, which I think are equally as good in their own very different ways.

One thing about Breaking Bad is that it's probably the finest example of team writing on television - the team managed to maintain that narrative focus over (effectively) six seasons, with a meaningful and appropriate ending.

In other thoughts - I thought Lydia's end was interesting, as Walt doesn't just poison her. At this stage of the poisoning she could at least try to get treatment for her poisoning, (even if she doesn't have good chances) but in doing so she would have to attract attention to herself and answer questions about how she came to ingest ricin, and who did it to her. What he gives her is the choice between dying apparently blamelessly or maybe surviving and losing everything.

*Though I can see it's not your intention. I'm on a roll here.
posted by Grangousier at 3:37 AM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was quite shocked they actually did a decent twist on the ending of Scarface

And the return of the barking dog... I noticed when I did a binge rewatch before this half season started that at a few key points (for instance with Jesse's gf/neighbour) you can hear a barking dog on the soundtrack.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:42 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


though ultimately less narratively coherent

Completely agree with this. The Wire was far from a perfect show. But, I have yet to find anything that I love nearly as much.
posted by marsha56 at 3:51 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I will never disagree with anyone that claims that BB had superior acting, better writing, tighter plotting. But for me, I vastly prefer The Wire's more mature morality. The whole notion of good guys and bad guys and settling scores with violence is ultimately childish and sadly too firmly embedded in the American ethos. Lester tells Prez that 'All the pieces matter'. Simon and the entire Wire series is saying all the people matter. In the real world, there are no throw away characters. Sure the Wire had a too neatly tied up finale for many of the characters but never in a way that betrays the show's entire moral arc."

Yeah, I agree with that. But I'm not sure that Gilligan had any better choices. For example, Andrea's murder really bothered me — it was Breaking Bad at its darkest. But it was just one example of the reality of the consequences of Walt's decisions. To have followed completely through with this theme of examining the morality of what all this really means would have been Andrea X12. It would have been too dark. And I say this as someone for whom "too dark" is almost nonexistent in my aesthetics vocabulary. But I think that in this case that series ending would have felt both appropriate and somehow unsatisfying. Perhaps more like a Clockwork Orange eyelids-held-open lesson about violence that would have made us more queasy than satisfied.

With regard to Jesse, I am in full agreement with those who say that law enforcement will be intensively looking for Jesse and his future isn't bright. But I'm also in full agreement with those who say that it doesn't really matter. As someone pointed out, the show is giving us as much as it could manage — Jesse deserves to to be free and they gave him, and us, that. Even if it will only be a little while. The show's over, so Jesse can forever exist in that moment of exhilarating escape. That's more than I would have asked for.

Incidentally, someone mentioned that the "New Hampshire" snow didn't look like New England snow. You wouldn't know it from the show, but that could easily have been, and probably was, filmed less than an hour outside Albuquerque. The show plays up the desert motif and entirely ignores the forested mountains, but there's a whole lot of mountainous national forest in New Mexico with many locations that would be that snowpacked every winter.

I actually didn't watch last week's episode until tonight. I watched both together. And, hey, wasn't Robert Forster great? Basically the same character as "Max Cherry"; but I could watch him every night. I really felt that Jonathon Banks's "Mike Ehrmantraut" was an Elmore Leonard character as depicted by Tarantino — which is to say, right out of Jackie Brown. That was made nearly-explicit in the season three episode "Full Measure" that features him.

Have I mentioned how upsetting Andrea's killing was? Yeah, it's still making me sad.

Oh, also, I totally called that Walt was going to use the ricin on Lydia. Seriously, I wrote that in the other thread right after the this second half-season started. Admittedly, I was certain that he was going to feed it to her in a piece of blueberry pie, so I got that part wrong.

Adam Godley's "Elliot Schwartz" didn't do much for me in that amazing scene — I mean, he played it well and did what was necessary. There was a bit of predictability in his character's reactions and how he played them. But Jessica Hecht's "Gretchen" was a much more interested and nuanced portrayal. Her reactions to Walt read very, very realistic to me. More than anything else, she was angry with him. Angry for becoming the person who he became; I think she felt (like everyone else) a sense of betrayal for that. And the anger was thoroughly mixed with disgust. Even so, she was very afraid. Her anger and disgust didn't override her fear. I think lesser writers and a lesser actor would have made that character's role in that scene far less interesting and compelling. I think that as fantastic an actor as Cranston is, there are numerous occasions in the show where he needs to be playing opposite similarly talented actors in order to make his character work. We've frequently seen him when he's pitiably, not frightening, and it's quite a feat that his character can make these periodic leaps into deeply frightening villainy. But it wouldn't work without good acting by the other players.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:57 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


But I'm not sure that Gilligan had any better choices.

I think there was a better choice. But that would have been too dark for most of the fans, and Gilligan couldn't bring himself to go that far. He gave us a show that was brave for four seasons and fifteen and a half episodes, but lost his nerve in the end.

But I think that in this case that series ending would have felt both appropriate and somehow unsatisfying. Perhaps more like a Clockwork Orange eyelids-held-open lesson about violence that would have made us more queasy than satisfied.

Or maybe you're right and I'm wrong. I don't know.

Anyway, I hope that Cranston gets the Emmy next year, and I hope that Rhaomi gets the MeFite award for best post of 2013.

Great discussion. That's why I love this site so damn much.
posted by marsha56 at 4:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile Walt and Jesse over five seasons are responsible for a massive trail of death.

I always thought it was a very interesting choice that we never had to deal with any meth addicts in the show. Like there's Jessie and Jane at one point who are on heroin sure, but we never have to face the fact that tons of people are becoming addicted to Walt's new blue meth.

I understand this in a way because it shows how myopic and self-centered Walt is, part of his continued conviction that selling meth is just like selling any other product, so I'm not sure I can fault the show for not showing what meth addiction is like as it would be completely outside Walt's word, but I wish the show had said in some way that Walt was killing people not just directly to get his own way but also indirectly through his superpower meth.
posted by litleozy at 4:23 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's also Spooge and Not-Skank, though they are dividing their time equally between meth and heroin.
posted by Grangousier at 4:26 AM on September 30, 2013


I will never disagree with anyone that claims that BB had superior acting, better writing, tighter plotting. But for me, I vastly prefer The Wire's more mature morality.

I agree, with the caveat that the shows are narratively different. BB was focused on just one man and the small family around him. The Wire had a sprawling cast that examined how systems corrupt people at all levels of society. These differences made BB easier to focus on and sympathize with for the general audience, which is why BB won so many emmys and The Wire never won any.

I always thought it was a very interesting choice that we never had to deal with any meth addicts in the show.

It was a smart writing choice, as it allowed the writers to shape the way we viewed Walt and Jesse. The few times we do see general addicts, they're severely messed up and throughly unlikable or in AA and portrayed with a sense of humanity.

As to Jesse and whether the authorities would find him, it's entirely possible they would and that he'd do time. Hell, that dream memory could be flash forward of him in a prison wood shop. But similar to D'angelou from The Wire, that would be ok, Jesse would be mentally free and mature enough to handle it. That's the important part.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the finale. It gave fans pretty-much as happy an ending as was practical.

One little thing gripes on me, though...The ricin in the Stevia. We're supposed to believe that Walt opened a Stevia packet in a way that didn't obviously damage it, added the ricin, somehow re-sealed the packet so that it looked un-tampered, then slipped the packet into the holder on exactly the right table that Lydia was going to sit at...which was not the same window table we've always seen her sitting at throughout the show.

That seems like a whole lot of implied manipulation without so much as a hint that Walt, perhaps bribed the waitstaff or something to assure Lydia sat at that particular table.

I'll let it go, though. It was a fun ending. Loved the laser pointer gag.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


We're supposed to believe that Walt opened a Stevia packet in a way that didn't obviously damage it, added the ricin, somehow re-sealed the packet so that it looked un-tampered, then slipped the packet into the holder on exactly the right table that Lydia was going to sit at...which was not the same window table we've always seen her sitting at throughout the show.

My husband, who is an amateur magician, said it would have been very easy for HIM to do. As a scientist, I assume Walt had a similarly easy time.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:54 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


One little thing gripes on me, though...The ricin in the Stevia

I assumed he palmed it during the coughing fit
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would've preferred a darker ending, but this one was exceedingly competent (as always). Plus, seeing Jesse riding off after having sloughed off most of his issues was very satisfying.

Good run, Vince. Good run.
posted by flippant at 4:57 AM on September 30, 2013


'Breaking Bad': Creator Vince Gilligan explains series finale
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I thought the finale was great. It IS fantasy, so I have to let some things slide, like Uncle Jack almost too easily setting things up for Walter's plan by bringing Jesse into the room. It reminded me of the old Batman TV series (among many others) where the villain could easily off the hero within a split second, but instead has to prove or explain something, allowing ample time for the hero to escape or turn the tables.

The other thing that bothered me a little (and I'm not sure if it's already been mentioned) is that it seems to me they don't need the coordinates to find Hank and Gomie. Can they not triangulate the location of his last cell phone call to Marie? Either way, it speaks to the quality of the episode, and the emotional punch of Walt giving the lottery ticket to Skyler that I didn't even think of it until hours after the show ended.
posted by The Deej at 5:19 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


~I assumed he palmed it during the coughing fit

Well, sure, I assumed that, too, but that's still a huge, questionable leap to have to make, long after the fact. Just a small little foreshadowing would have been nice. Walt lifting some Stevia packets somewhere, for instance. I mean, heck, we got a foreshadowing of the awesome trunk gun when we was assembling the mechanism.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:22 AM on September 30, 2013


I think foreshadowing on the Stevia any more would have been overkill. We saw it twice before she drank, and they made it VERY obvious what was happening. The M60 mechanism wasn't foreshadowing, it was showing us exactly what Walt was building.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:24 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


One little thing gripes on me, though...The ricin in the Stevia. We're supposed to believe that Walt opened a Stevia packet in a way that didn't obviously damage it, added the ricin, somehow re-sealed the packet so that it looked un-tampered, then slipped the packet into the holder on exactly the right table that Lydia was going to sit at...which was not the same window table we've always seen her sitting at throughout the show.

I assumed it was the second pack of Stevia, that the waiter took from another table, that was the Stevia that contained the ricin. That's the one that we got a long lingering shot for. I assumed that it was from the table Walt was originally sitting at, because that makes the most sense and the waiter moves in the direction of that table after Lydia asks for more Stevia. How Walt ensured that happened, I'm not sure.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:32 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I assumed that it was from the table Walt was originally sitting at, because that makes the most sense and the waiter moves in the direction of that table after Lydia asks for more Stevia. How Walt ensured that happened, I'm not sure.

That's the neat part, it doesn't matter. It's clearly possible to get the rincin to Lydia and it works thematically in terms of ting up that loose end. But the actual mechanics of how it happened aren't that important. Lydia simply needs to go and Walt figures out the perfect means to kill her.

Which is another fine thing about the show. Even at the end, you're still rooting for Walt to kill some people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vince Gilligan in fearfulsymmetry's link above:
We didn’t feel an absolute need for Walt to expire at the end of the show. Our gut told us it was right. As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don’t think it was a necessity for us. There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers.
I can't exactly say I wanted the series to end that way, but I was expecting something more along those lines. It would have felt right, especially the way everything fell apart in Ozymandias, and the way that all of Walt's decisions and actions had historically resulted in unintended consequences. The actual ending was an amazing piece of plot resolution and very satisfying in its own way but after watching Walt's descent for five seasons, his redemption (for lack of a better term) in one episode felt a little bit abrupt.
posted by usonian at 5:38 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


More from the Gilligan interview:

And I think more importantly for him than that is the fact that he accomplishes what he set out to accomplish way back in the first episode: He leaves his family just a ton of money. ... Walt has failed on so many levels, but he has managed to do the one thing he set out to do, which is a victory. He has managed to make his family financially sound in his absence, and that was really the only thing he set out to do in that first episode. So, mission accomplished.”

To grant Walt this kind of "victory" leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
posted by marsha56 at 5:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a bit unfair, but feels almost like the writers bought into Walt's own lies by the end.
posted by litleozy at 5:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I woke up this morning from a dream where I knew my own time was extremely limited, and about all the things I did—the decisions I had to make—in my final hours. Ended with feeling my life ebb, fading out surrounded more by regrets for things I hadn't managed to accomplish than friends.

GYOFB, I know, but that's the kind of impact this show had on me. I can't remember anything else like it.
posted by Eideteker at 5:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with Sepinwall that this ending was a little pat -- I can understand that months alone in a cabin dying can spur personality change and growth (a little bit, anyways -- even at the end he wouldn't let Gretchen and Eliot pay for a lawyer), but somehow the tone wasn't quite perfect for me.

I wonder, though, if in part its because they played fair with the ending (unlike Lost) and so they chose an ending that many fans could and did figure out.

(Also, why the hate for Lydia among the show creators? All that complaining about how people hate Skyler for what is generally a bunch of misogynistic reasons, and you don't think that maybe your dislike of Lydia has a touch of that? Though calling Todd "Ricky Hitler" is great.)
posted by jeather at 5:56 AM on September 30, 2013


Jesse is free at the end of the episode, yes. More importantly (for me), the last shot of him is a shot of a man who has been to hell and back, one who very, very much wants to live. We can all generate our own endings for him afterwards, but that's about the best ending that the series could have given him without compromising itself.

I think he goes to Alaska and works in a salmon-canning factory and maybe takes an art class and learns how to paint, and eventually meets a nice Alaskan single mom and settles down with her and makes more babies Jesse I love you
posted by duvatney at 5:58 AM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


why the hate for Lydia among the show creators?

I can't speak for the show's creators, but I got on team Hate Lydia when she started fucking with Mike and Mike's guys.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:01 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


The actual ending was an amazing piece of plot resolution and very satisfying in its own way but after watching Walt's descent for five seasons, his redemption (for lack of a better term) in one episode felt a little bit abrupt.

He didn't get redemption, he got some small forms of resolution. What he wanted to do, leave money to his family, was totally accomplished. But he almost destroyed his family. He did things that caused him to be kicked out of the family. He did his duty, so to speak, but he denied his family what they wanted most, him at home, to love them and be loved.

Having his family completely destroyed would have been too much for me, because it still would have left the focus utterly on Walt. This way, the family gets to escape him and move past him to not only find their own place, but more importantly, find it without him.

The theme of the importance of family has been a big one throughout the series, both the family we're born into and the families we created with our friends and co-workers. Walt repeatedly denies and harms all of those families for his own selfish ends. Christ, it took him until he was 52 and had left a trail of destruction behind him that forced him to 3-4 months of solitary confinement and approaching death to finally come to terms with utterly he had failed every single member of all of his families.

Think about it, Junior wound up protecting Skyler from Walt, while calling the cops on him. He pointedly spurned Walt's money, when they so very badly needed it and wished Walt dead. Skyler pointedly said that she was just waiting for him to die. Hank died. Jesse actively plotted to have him brought in.

Walt could have avoided this entire mess, even late in the game, if he had simply asked Jesse, his adopted son and heir of sorts, to do him a favor and leave town. Jesse blatantly told him that would work. Yet Walt was till stuck in his own world, trying to manipulate and control everyone for his benefit, when people would have done things for him out of love.

In the end, he does the smallest kindnrd for Jesse, he saves him from endless form of enslavement. That isn't some great act on Walt's part, it's the very least he could have done, after causing Jesse so much pain (pain that Jesse admittedly accepted until the end) and consigning him to hell. He owed Jesse that saving, because he was the one that had placed him in hell.

Walt was a brilliant man, who could have been so much. Yet his legacy is one of pain, hurt and murder. He died surrounded by something he loved that could not love him back, after taking a few steps to clean up the mess he'd created, while his real family hates him and will probably never know what little good he did in the end.

That ain't redemption, that's sad and pathetic state of affairs. But he's also the best Walt could have hoped for by this point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:03 AM on September 30, 2013 [34 favorites]


This is a bit unfair, but feels almost like the writers bought into Walt's own lies by the end.

I think that is definitely unfair.

Vince Gilligan did a really good interview on the Nerdist podcast a while back, prior to the final 8 being shown. One of the things he was very clear about was that he was long past the point of having any sympathy for Walt. He seemed to not understand how anyone was still on "Team Walt".

(and seriously, it's a really good interview -- over an hour, and well worth listening to).
posted by tocts at 6:04 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have to say I was more than satisfied with the way it ended. Among the highlights:

* Walt's barely-disguised contempt for Elliott ("You're going to need a bigger knife.")

* Chekhov's M60

* THAT CREEPY LITTLE DEAD-EYED FUCK TODD FINALLY GETTING WHAT WAS COMING TO HIM YEAH BITCH

...ahem. I mean, Jesse getting some measure of revenge.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:11 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't think it's unfair at all. Gilligan is deluding himself. By granting Walt's ultimate wish of leaving his family safe and financially secure, Gilligan is planting himself firmly on Team Walt.
posted by marsha56 at 6:12 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


* THAT CREEPY LITTLE DEAD-EYED FUCK TODD FINALLY GETTING WHAT WAS COMING TO HIM YEAH BITCH

The sound of his neck snapping was indeed a sweet sound.

Yes, I'm ok with being manipulated into having that frame. It was a particularly well done story arc, Jesse and Todd.

By granting Walt's ultimate wish of leaving his family safe and financially secure, Gilligan is planting himself firmly on Team Walt.

Walt got what he wanted, but it cost him everything including the love of his family. That's not rooting for Team Walt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:16 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed the finale. It gave fans pretty-much as happy an ending as was practical.

Yeah, that's exactly what I didn't like about it. It recasts the entire show as this heroic action movie about Walt becoming an übermensch.

Don't get me wrong, it's a thousand times better than BSG, where the ending actually makes me dislike the rest of the series. But it's still disappointing that Walt got everything he wanted in the end.
Despite his short-term estrangement from his family, there were no real consequences for him. His family got his money, and he got his notoriety, excitement, and revenge.

It's not that it was too pat. It's that I don't feel like he deserved a happy ending. I was desperately hoping that he was going to have a crazy set piece planned with the M60 (much like he actually did), but that it would've failed, and he would've been unceremoniously shot in the head and disappeared in a hole in the desert.

Seems like that would've been way more appropriate. But like marsha56, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Wire fan, and perhaps more open to blatantly depressing endings than most people.
posted by graphnerd at 6:18 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


He seemed to not understand how anyone was still on "Team Walt".

Yeah I know I've heard him say that and you can totally see it in the show, but the finale (while brilliant and one of the best I've seen) does a lot of legwork to redeem Walt. He gets to die on his own terms which is as much as he could've had at that stage.

I think in a way the best part of the episode was also the worst: when he told Skylar he did it for himself. Because you almost think 'damn, well yeah if it helped him feel alive then maybe it's okay...' and that's almost sums up the whole show: yeah what we're showing is wrong but it's fun and feels alive doesn't it. Which I don't begrudge because holy shit was it fun, but the show almost makes us want to admire Walt which no.

He didn't get redemption, he got some small forms of resolution.

Really really good point. Reminds me of Peter Brook railing against catharsis, resolution makes things dramatically satisfying but also means doing violence to a lot of the subtleties raised.
posted by litleozy at 6:19 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was desperately hoping that he was going to have a crazy set piece planned with the M60 (much like he actually did), but that it would've failed, and he would've been unceremoniously shot in the head and disappeared in a hole in the desert.

Walt's legacy is that he was drug kingpin. That's what he's known for, selling drugs to addicts and causing death. Meanwhile, the company he helped start is known for great science developments and handing out millions to charity.

Nobody is envious of Walt in the end, nobody. Everyone loves Elliott and Gretchen though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess, the way I saw it, it's not a clean win for Walter. His marriage is in ruins, his son will hate him forever, and his daughter will basically not remember anything about him. He will never get credit for the millions of dollars he's bequeathing to his family. His brother-in-law, who he truly did want to protect, is dead.

In the plus column, his family is taken care of, the Nazis and Lydia are dead, Jesse is free, and the blue meth is gone.

But I think it's worth observing that, with the exception of the money, he did not come out on top in any way. He only restored balance - as best he could, he returned the world to the way it was before he barged in and fucked everything up. But even then, we can only say he did that if we ignore sunk costs and the fact that his solution to a mountain of dead bodies and ruined lives was a couple more dead bodies.

We saw Walt finally reaching his full potential, just in time to die. Throughout the entire series, we've seen it play out as tragedies do: a potentially great man undone by a fatal flaw. Hank says Walt is the smartest person he's ever met. And time and time again, that intelligence is undercut by his pride. It not only gets in the way of what he wants, it costs lives.

Only at the end, after being thoroughly broken, was Walter able to abandon that pride, and in so doing, he could turn his brain towards the best possible outcome for his family and for all the wrongs he committed. He confessed the truth, the real truth, to Skyler - tellingly, this was the only real peace we've seen between them in a long time. That's what it took. And it held together just long enough for him to say goodbye.

In letting go of his pride, he took the fall for Hank and Gomez's deaths. He allowed himself to be found dead at the lab where the blue meth was being made, with his recipe, surrounded by the corpses of a white-power prison gang (which is not going to do wonders for his perceived legacy). And he made sure his family was taken care of, though they'll never know it was him, and their own reputation is in shreds at this point.

It's not that Walter White won. It's that Heisenberg lost.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:24 AM on September 30, 2013 [46 favorites]


By granting Walt's ultimate wish of leaving his family safe and financially secure, Gilligan is planting himself firmly on Team Walt.

Well, I am Team Walt, but I don't think Gilligan necessarily was. There was nothing about Walt's initial plan to leave his family with the money that intended that they would be irreparably broken.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:27 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But it's still disappointing that Walt got everything he wanted in the end."

I don't really think that's true. In that interview, Gilligan characterizes this as Walt getting what he wanted in only the very narrowest sense — he'll pass along a bunch of money, but he's lost everything else. His son hates him and wishes him dead. He got a little bit of a resolution with Skyler, but it was just the tiniest bit. Gilligan points out that he's harmed his family emotionally much worse than anything that the money could counter-balance.

Also, from that and other interviews (like Cranston's) it really sounds like what it came down to were three possible endings: the Walt is the only one left standing, having to live with the death of everyone he loved; Jesse killing Walt; and this ending. They felt that Jesse killing Walt wouldn't be doing right by Jesse's character — he both had enough of it, but also he wasn't going to give Walter what he wanted. And I think that they chose this ending over the very bleak ending because as satisfying as that bleak ending would have been for some, for a lot of other people it would have been either unsatisfying or just too dark. This is a compromise.

And I personally think that it's not a "compromise" in the sense of being lesser for it — I think that it sacrifices what we might call moral purity for allowing the audience to have one last little bit of guilty pleasure. Walt gets the revenge he needs, passes on some money to his family, and Jesse is freed. He dies.

Otherwise, though, it's pretty much hellish. Hank is dead, his family and Marie don't live happily ever after ... at least, not for a long while. Jesse is free, but his future is uncertain. It's not much of a victory. But then, maybe the one victory Walt really cared about was intimidating and humiliating Elliot and Gretchen.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:34 AM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Nobody is envious of Walt in the end, nobody. Everyone loves Elliott and Gretchen though.

Yeah, that's a really good point. But my early read is that he got the resolution that he wanted. By his own rules, Walt won.
posted by graphnerd at 6:34 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think in a way the best part of the episode was also the worst: when he told Skylar he did it for himself. Because you almost think 'damn, well yeah if it helped him feel alive then maybe it's okay...'

I had precisely the opposite reaction. Doing it for your family is the justification that someone might accept. Doing it because it makes you "feel alive" at the cost of destroying your family and wrecking lives? That's just selfish bullshit.

I think Walt gained a measure of redemption by realizing that he'd been doing it for himself rather than continuing to tell Skyler that he was doing it for the family. Telling her that was always a way of making her somewhat to blame; taking the blame entirely onto himself was one of his better moments as a husband on the series.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's a really good point. But my early read is that he got the resolution that he wanted. By his own rules, Walt won.

Yes, but Walt's rules are completely fucked up and destroyed everything. Not just one or two things, but everything in his family. In the end, he was what he feared most, a terrible provider, because he had such a narrow view of what provider is. Hell, he couldn't even give his family money in the end, had to lie and threaten others to get them to take it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I think more importantly for him than that is the fact that he accomplishes what he set out to accomplish way back in the first episode: He leaves his family just a ton of money. ... Walt has failed on so many levels, but he has managed to do the one thing he set out to do, which is a victory. He has managed to make his family financially sound in his absence, and that was really the only thing he set out to do in that first episode. So, mission accomplished.

It's odd to me that people find Jesse's ending more implausible or problematic than this. I wasn't left feeling confident vis a vis the real world that the White family would ever see a dime of the money. Once Walt is dead, which is going to make the news, why would anyone expect the supposed 'hit men' to go through with it? Hit men aren't honor bound samurai. If whoever hired you is dead, you are a lucky hit-man. You can keep the money and not do the job. I did suspect that the show expected me to buy it, and was a little deflated to hear Gilligan confirm it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:44 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Obviously, Jesse doesn't go to jail or Alaska. As he's driving away, suddenly Mike appears in the road in front of him. At first, Jesse thinks he ran Mike over, but Mike suddenly pops up in the passenger seat. Mike's an angel! And then? Highway to Heaven reboot, except with more killing drug dealers.
posted by amarynth at 6:46 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


By granting Walt's ultimate wish of leaving his family safe and financially secure, Gilligan is planting himself firmly on Team Walt.

Doesn't this actually suggest you're the one who bought into Walt's lies, though? Walt isn't getting what he wants in the end. What he wanted wasn't really money for his family after his death, it was self-glorification and the thrill of "being the one who knocks" instead of just another ordinary schmo. At the end, he's finally taking some responsibility for his actions and trying to do damage control for his family, but I think it's a mistake to characterize the ending as Walt getting everything--or even anything--he wanted. I think knowing that Walt Jr. hated him and wanted to see him dead at the end is a bitter enough pill to keep Walt from feeling too self-congratulatory over the fact that he finally found a way to maybe get some money to him one day. Walt wanted to have it all. He wanted to go on being Heisenberg in secret while providing his family the kind of high standard of life that Gretchen and Eliot enjoyed. Instead he practically destroyed his family and lost everything. I'm having a hard time seeing how this ending in any sense gave Walt what he wanted unless you accept the lies that he's been telling himself all along (that his actions are a sacrifice for his family's benefit, a lie even he doesn't believe anymore at the end).
posted by saulgoodman at 6:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's odd to me that people find Jesse's ending more implausible or problematic than this. I wasn't left feeling confident vis a vis the real world that the White family would ever see a dime of the money. Once Walt is dead, which is going to make the news, why would anyone expect the supposed 'hit men' to go through with it?

It's not "anyone," it's Elliot and Gretchen. All the set-up with them talking about Per Se and how they really need to go out to Napa again is to remind us what clueless sheltered rich people they are. They bought that shit hook, line, and sinker.
posted by duvatney at 6:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


My hope is that Jesse's car runs out of gas in Pawnee, Indiana, where he will be no odder than the average citizen and significantly less odd than some. Eventually, Ron Swanson takes him on as a woodworking apprentice.
posted by nonasuch at 6:53 AM on September 30, 2013 [37 favorites]


Nah, we're just saying you're missing the long game. It's all well and good to drive away without Nazis hanging off of the car. But tomorrow? This is a very well-written show. If there's a gap, you can almostly certainly assume it's there for a reason. What about three years from now? Walt made elaborate arrangements for money. They thought of almost everything. Seriously, it's fun to think about. We're not missing anything, we're thinking about what's next.
posted by nevercalm at 11:26 PM on September 29 [+] [!]


Take it from me, there is no long game. That is a theme, if not THE theme. Playing the long game will NEVER go the way you plan or plot, Walt or Vince. Intentions and plans are laughable. There is only what you do now, your actions now, this moment NOW. It's not a script, it's life, and Gilligan and Co. come darned close to saying by showing, be exhilirated right now. Get on the road. Save yourself. Go.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:57 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for the show's creators, but I got on team Hate Lydia when she started fucking with Mike and Mike's guys.

I liked Mike but I had no attachment whatsoever to his team. I just don't see what about her was so much worse.
posted by jeather at 7:03 AM on September 30, 2013


I liked Mike but I had no attachment whatsoever to his team. I just don't see what about her was so much worse.

I didn't like her because didn't want to get her hands dirty. She was willing to play dirty, but didn't want to see any consequences from her actions. There were classism in her demeanor, she was snobby rich person who thought she was better than everyone else i.e. easy to hate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'll cop to be a total sucker for Mike's "plain spoken crook of his word" routine, so my attachment to his team was all about valuing the guy who was remaining loyal to his people and doing things the right way. It's entirely sentimental, I'll admit, but that's where I was.

I also hated that Lydia jumped to the "we have to murder all these people" solution without ever having actually been involved with that side of the business. She decided to murder Mike's team for the same reason she wore giant sunglasses and sat at different tables, because she's pretty sure that's how it would happen in a movie. She's a dilettante, and a bad one, and those people are easy to hate.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:10 AM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


What he wanted wasn't really money for his family after his death, it was self-glorification and the thrill of "being the one who knocks" instead of just another ordinary schmo.

He got that, too. Til the very end.
posted by graphnerd at 7:20 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just got started writing a lengthy argument for why I disagree with and dislike the notion that an ending like Breaking Bad's is immature or cheating or pat or whatever, and then realized that there's absolutely no good to come out of arguing shit like this on a web site. The circuitous arguments and neverending discussions and blow-by-blow opinions have nothing on how brilliant a show that was, down to the final moments. Jesus. I have wasted my life.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:20 AM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


As he's driving away, suddenly Mike appears in the road in front of him. At first, Jesse thinks he ran Mike over, but Mike suddenly pops up in the passenger seat. Mike's an angel!

This is basically the finale of Battlestar Galactica.
posted by brain_drain at 7:22 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The more I think about symbiod's comment, the more I like it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:26 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last night I thought Walt got off to easy. This morning, I've changed my mind.

Walter White died alone, unloved; his only friend the last 4 months of his life a man he had to pay.

That's not winning.

Walt last act of Fatherhood was the only un-selfish thing he did in 5 seasons. Flynn gets his money, but will never know it came from Walt. It's a tiny bit of redemption, sure,

But that's not what Walt wanted, not what he's worked towards for 2 years. He wanted the credit, he wanted his family to be grateful every day to him, well after he was gone. Actually providing for his family may have been the original motivation to start cooking, but it isn't what drove him.

Walt got resolution (as noted above), but he lost everything he actually cared about.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:26 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just got started writing a lengthy argument for why I disagree with and dislike the notion that an ending like Breaking Bad's is immature or cheating or pat or whatever, and then realized that there's absolutely no good to come out of arguing shit like this on a web site.

Nonsense, one gets a sense of self satisfaction.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There were classism in her demeanor, she was snobby rich person who thought she was better than everyone else i.e. easy to hate.

Totally. The most loathsome character on the show, IMHO. Even more despicable than Todd (barely.)
posted by JeffL at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2013


Lydia's preferred solution was always "have someone else commit murder". She and Todd made a good match.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


If that stray bullet hadn't hit Walt, I can't see him taking his own life. He's too prideful and/or lacks the courage.

(Though I suppose he did die by his own [robotic] hand.)
posted by wensink at 7:37 AM on September 30, 2013


Regarding the method for poisoning Lydia. Every time she's at the shop previously there isn't any stevia when she asks for it. And this time theres a single packet waiting (and of course, she asks for more). I don't have any comment on the feasibility of making a packet (but it seems like something you could do with some paper, glue and maybe an iron?), but I don't think Walt slipped it to her while he was at the table - it was waiting for her when she got there.
posted by ish__ at 7:38 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There were classism in her demeanor, she was snobby rich person who thought she was better than everyone else i.e. easy to hate.

I think this is true but I also think it's more subtle and interesting than that. I kind of thought of Lydia as being very similar to Walt, partially because of stuff like this but also Bulgaroktonos' point about her acting like she was in a movie. Remember back when Walter started wearing that ridiculous hat and meeting at junkyards and people would be like "What, did they close the mall?" Lydia's a lot like that; she has been very sheltered so she hasn't developed any sort of personal code and she feels like she has a lot to lose just by being associated with this world. She DOES think she's better than everyone else and that her safety is more important than other people's lives and this is largely a result of her privilege.

I found her to be a really interesting character in that she, like Walter, is at least partially a study of what happens to someone who gets into this world who hasn't set up any mental barriers and isn't sure how to handle it but is completely and utterly ruthless partially because she thinks she's better than everyone else and that this excuses her actions.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:39 AM on September 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


Last night I thought Walt got off to easy. This morning, I've changed my mind.

Walter White died alone, unloved; his only friend the last 4 months of his life a man he had to pay.

That's not winning.


I was thinking last night- it's pretty amazing that a show can end with the main character losing his family and friends and being utterly disgraced in the eyes of the entire world, and then dying of a gunshot wound, and that's the happiest conceivable ending.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:43 AM on September 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


Mefi's own Linda Holmes has a thing on NPR's website about the episode.
posted by box at 7:44 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, everyone needs to go listen to El Paso all the way through.

(And then listen to Mister Shorty, just because it's hilarious)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, everyone needs to go listen to El Paso all the way through.

This is good advice for life generally.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:48 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not sure if I am in the contingent of people who wanted it to end after Ozymandias. I like Emily Nussbaum's argument that it's all his dying moment's dream -- that it didn't happen, but that this is the best possible ending that even Walt himself could come up with.
posted by jeather at 7:49 AM on September 30, 2013


Also, everyone needs to go listen to El Paso all the way through.

Oh God, a few months ago Mr. Pterodactyl started playing that while I was drunk and I ended up sobbing for like an hour.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Also, everyone needs to go listen to El Paso all the way through.

This is good advice for life generally.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:48 AM on September 30 [+] [!]


OBVIOUSLY IT'S NOT YOU MADE ME CRY!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh God, a few months ago Mr. Pterodactyl started playing that while I was drunk and I ended up sobbing for like an hour.

I am a cruel and uncaring husband. Also, that was hilarious.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Marie buys a shitload of purple things at the craft store, noticed a hand carved wooden box...
posted by Artw at 7:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


In that interview, Gilligan characterizes this as Walt getting what he wanted in only the very narrowest sense — he'll pass along a bunch of money, but he's lost everything else. His son hates him and wishes him dead. He got a little bit of a resolution with Skyler, but it was just the tiniest bit. Gilligan points out that he's harmed his family emotionally much worse than anything that the money could counter-balance.


Walter White died alone, unloved; his only friend the last 4 months of his life a man he had to pay.

That's not winning.

Walt last act of Fatherhood was the only un-selfish thing he did in 5 seasons. Flynn gets his money, but will never know it came from Walt. It's a tiny bit of redemption, sure,

But that's not what Walt wanted, not what he's worked towards for 2 years. He wanted the credit, he wanted his family to be grateful every day to him, well after he was gone. Actually providing for his family may have been the original motivation to start cooking, but it isn't what drove him.

Walt got resolution (as noted above), but he lost everything he actually cared about.


Yes but, how tragically manly.

Speaking as a man who can watch movies like The Godfather and Heat about a million times.

Compare this with what the writers of The Wire did for Team Omar. They made a choice. It's fine to look for different things in our tv, or want a happy ending in this case. There's no need to call it "moral purity" to make it sound ridiculous.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:53 AM on September 30, 2013


Mefi's own Linda Holmes has a thing on NPR's website about the episode.

I don't want to repost a ton of the article, but this, along with the explanation that follows, really sums it up my initial thoughts on the money:

Here, however, I could not escape the feeling that by earning anyone's sympathy, Walt was getting away with one last self-aggrandizing con.
posted by amarynth at 8:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I was pleased to see the camera movement in the last shot call back to "Crawl Space" (S04/E11), one of my top-five favorite episodes.

It also reminded me strongly of the penultimate shot of Lost.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There's no need to call it 'moral purity' to make it sound ridiculous."

I didn't intend "moral purity" to sound ridiculous. It's not ridiculous to me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:10 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The money Walt got to his family is an irrelevance next to the harm he's done them, and everyone around them, and the people the solipsistic prick doesn't even know or care he destroyed. The shot of Marie alone in the heavily-guarded empty house, and Skyler sitting (apparently) alone, smoking, just broke my heart, in part because we don't see Brock or the family of the kid Todd shot in the desert. Nobody's going to make it right for them, nobody could, and even if Walt acknowledges some of the harm he's caused right there at the end, we only see any attempt at restitution toward the people he personally cares about. Because he can mouth the words 'I did it for me', but he's never really strong enough to pull himself free of that.

In fact Walt admitted he did all this for himself, but I didn't get the impression he understood for a moment what that actually meant. The reason for his desperate need to deliver that money to Flynn was still purely selfish. Flynn is smart, smarter than Walt, and he will know in a second where an oddly-sized trust fund from some people he met one time actually came from. I'd be astonished, realistically, if he even got it, and if he does, Walt has placed him in a position of either having to live with accepting that everything he has came from his idiot monster of a father, or turning down a materially better life for everyone he loves.

The money was only ever self-esteem and masculinity tokens for Walt, and the thing he valued in managing (maybe) to get it to his kid was that it let him die a little more easily. Not one thought for what it actually meant to Flynn. It was still all about Walt.

That line, though. That fucking line Walt delivers to Eliot and Gretchen, something like 'this is your chance to make it right'. I don't think there could ever have been enough pain delivered to Walt over the episode to satisfy my abject loathing for the little man at that point. He's not talking about making things right for the Whites, it's for himself. Every single thing his pathetic masculine ego has driven him to break, to ruin, to walk away from to satisfy his pride, he's nursed and allowed to fester into this list of ways other people have done him harm and owe him recompense. And it only exists in his mind, of course, and he will tear down anything at all to satisfy something purely imaginary.

I wanted so much for Walt to catch a TV report where Gretchen and Eliot were turning in the money to the police and pledging to support the Whites on their own dime before the end, give Flynn the Gray Matter Scholarship For Promising Youth or something. I was actually also genuinely hoping for the slow zoom-out and the romantic-death music to abruptly stop, and cut to a patched-up Walt accounting for his crimes before a judge and jury. To steal dying on his own stupid terms from him, and show him how the world looks from outside his head for the first time. Sadly not.
posted by emmtee at 8:13 AM on September 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


I primarily associate the song El Paso with the opening bit from Steve Martin's 1980 Comedy is not Pretty television special* , which caused me a bit of cognitive dissonance last night.

* (For the love of god why did somebody add a laugh track to that? That wasn't on the recorded-from-TV copy my brother used to have)
posted by usonian at 8:13 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ooh, also this:

What kept the Breaking Bad finale from being entirely satisfying for me was that because Walt's grotesque behavior came largely from his desire for power and control, a balanced ending would be one that denied him some measure of control. I wanted the balance to emerge from Walt not ending things on his own terms.
posted by amarynth at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


wensink: If that stray bullet hadn't hit Walt, I can't see him taking his own life. He's too prideful and/or lacks the courage.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Walt was planning to die in his robo-car-gun hail of gunfire. He wanted them all dead together: the Nazis, Jesse (who he believed was getting fat off of Walt's genius and reputation), and him. It was only his discovery that Jesse was not, in fact, Heisenberg II, but rather chained up and being forced to cook for the Nazis for months that switched up that last part of the plan; he was saving Jesse, and he absolutely meant it when he told Jesse that he wanted Jesse to kill him.
posted by tzikeh at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


Nonsense, one gets a sense of self satisfaction.

I AM THE ONE WHO BLOVIATES
posted by graphnerd at 8:14 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not 100% sure what Walt's plan was. He told Skyler that the police would be looking for him "after tonight." So I think it's possible he planned to be the sole survivor of the M60 attack.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:16 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't intend "moral purity" to sound ridiculous. It's not ridiculous to me.

My mistake then Ivan, it's just a phrase that in my experience is so often used that way.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:17 AM on September 30, 2013


He told Skyler that the police would be looking for him "after tonight."

Easier for Skyler to hear than if he had said "I'm going to commit suicide tonight while I kill a bunch of white supremacists." The night before, he said something to Gretchen and Elliott about "regardless of what happens to me tomrrow" or the like--setting them up so that, even when they heard he was dead, they would know that the hitmen would follow through (and whether or not you think hitmen would "bother" with a job after the buyer was dead, would you risk it? I sure wouldn't. Gretchen and Elliott sure aren't the kind of people who would either).

IMO, he was planning to die. If he lived through it, well, that would be by chance and not by strategy.
posted by tzikeh at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2013


I think it's fair to say Walt didn't redeem himself. But he absolutely didn't do what he intended to do in the end in any sense (saving Jesse instead of killing him, among other things), so to me the idea that the show gave Walt control at the end is a non-sequiter. That said, I agree with the general idea that Walt was still acting selfishly in looking after only his own closest loved ones in his final plan to mop up the mess. Walt is bottomlessly self-centered. We knew that already.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:30 AM on September 30, 2013


Mefi's own Linda Holmes has a thing on NPR's website about the episode.

I'm glad she mentioned the ridiculousness of the Nazi's and how they let Walt drive in the compound without checking his trunk, park where he wants, brings Jesse up, etc.

Yet I don't care. Rationally it makes no sense, but emotionally it works, because despite the fact that he's slaughtering people, he's doing it to people worse than himself. It's neat narrative touch. Walt is pretty nasty piece of work at this point, but some of us are still cheering for him to deal with the really nasty plot element introduced in the last season characters.

It's also great that Walt doesn't care bout the rest of the money. He finally figured out some measure of "this is enough."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:34 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


he absolutely meant it when he told Jesse that he wanted Jesse to kill him.

That's what I'm getting at. Whether it was via the Nazi robot gun or Jesse, Walt is incapable of ending life by his own hand. Jesse recognizes this and, in refusing to do Walt's bidding, gets the final eff you.
posted by wensink at 8:37 AM on September 30, 2013


The AMC website flash player thing frequently has the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast hours before it shows up in iTunes. Not going to lie. Quite a bit of the next few hours is going to be spent refreshing that page.
posted by sparkletone at 8:38 AM on September 30, 2013


sparkletone, my iTunes downloaded it at 5AM.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2013


Are you sure that's for episode #516, room?
posted by wensink at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2013


sparkletone, my iTunes downloaded it at 5AM.

You sure about that? It's not on the AMC site yet and I don't see it on the itunes page for it either. It's got everything up to 515, but no 516.
posted by sparkletone at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2013


Linda Holmes, in the bits quoted above, really nails why I also was not entirely satisfied. That doesn't mean that it wasn't a good ending to a great show. Not to sound too cheesy about it but good art shouldn't necessarily leave everybody satisfied. In the end, it's neat that I care enough to be not satisfied.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:43 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not 100% sure, but I don't have my phone near me. It downloaded SOMETHING about 516 this morning. It could be another podcast, I suppose. I haven't listened yet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:45 AM on September 30, 2013


(especially because two weeks ago I barely called myself a fan...binge watching is sick in all definitions for the word)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:46 AM on September 30, 2013


Sparkle: If you need a BB podcast fix while waiting for Insider, the fellas at Bald Move have been putting one up after each episode airs. It's no Insider, but it may feed the beast.
posted by wensink at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2013


Linda Holmes, in the bits quoted above, really nails why I also was not entirely satisfied.

I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind, meaning Jesse wasn't looking into his eyes while screaming 'fuck you' over and over.

The snapping sounds almost made up for that though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


McNulty engages in investigative fraud in the last season of "The Wire" (making murders seem to fit a serial pattern that get the city riled up, and almost certainly gain national attention) and only gets fired, then everybody has a celebratory "wake" for him. Then he apparently goes out to make up with his lady friend, who he'd cheated on repeatedly. What was so downbeat or just about that ending? (I loved "The Wire," for the record, but the newspaper story and the homicide case fraud of the final season made it my least favorite, easily.)
posted by raysmj at 8:51 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whether it was via the Nazi robot gun or Jesse, Walt is incapable of ending life by his own hand.

I respectfully disagree that setting up a robot machine gun to aim at a room you're going to be standing in the middle of, and then hitting the button to start it shooting, is not ending your life by your own hand. But this is a minor quibble, and I thought the episode was a major success, so I'm just a happy happy narrative fan right now. (Don't look at me Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, or Lost. Don't even fucking look at me.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:53 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind

Does it help if you mentally recast it as Leia strangling Jabba?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's no Insider, but it may feed the beast.

I might give that a listen. I think that podcast is going to scratch the itch I already get from talking to people here and elsewhere. The craving is for the kind of behind the scenes, what were the struggles/happy accidents, (and especially) what the writers were thinking as they put it together sorts of things. You get a bit of that with Talking Bad, but that is very much the reduced, lower form, since there's time constraints and what not.

Did get a little bit of it from Gilligan, et al. on Talking Bad last night though.
posted by sparkletone at 8:55 AM on September 30, 2013


Here's the ending music. Baby Blue by Badfinger

hilarious.

I gave up on Breaking Bad half way through Season 3 (too much an extended, never ending slow trip to hell a la Godfather Part 2 ... and thus masochistic for me), yet have come to love tracking the discussion, and even went so far in the last couple of weeks to watch summaries of all the shows I've missed.

One thing I did not see coming was ending the show with perhaps my all time favorite song. Thanks, Mr. Gilligan.
posted by philip-random at 8:58 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walt's barely-disguised contempt for Elliott ("You're going to need a bigger knife.")

BTW, I loved the acting of that line -- Walt's face, posture, and voice all seemed to me to be channeling Mike, just as I saw his polite handling of Saul's car wash ticket a couple of episodes back as channeling Gus. You can actually see in Cranston's delivery exactly where in his career Walt learned how to handle himself in each specific situation.

As for redemption, Nothing Walt could have done would make him into a good man at that point. He just got back enough of his soul to die as a failed and flawed man, and not as a monster.
posted by tyllwin at 8:59 AM on September 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind

Well, Todd killed Andrea from behind, so...poetic justice?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can actually see in Cranston's delivery exactly where in his career Walt learned how to handle himself in each specific situation.

I had exactly this thought several times during the scene. And those little hints of Mike showing through caused some serious ~emotions~ (and quite a bit of laughter at the perfect Mike-ish disdain in both the timing and phrasing of the "you're going to need a bigger knife" line).
posted by sparkletone at 9:02 AM on September 30, 2013


I don't get it on the Linda Holmes thing. Why does she insist on making a black/white dichotomy? I don't understand why some people are so intent on making Walt a "Monster" or "A victim" Why can't he be both? Why do we insist on one dimensional characters?

Why can't Walt be caught up in his own narcissism and still try to do the right thing. Why can't he have inner strife between his honest love and care for his loved ones (You don't try to protect Hank like he did, he was fucking adamant about that), he tried to save Jesse so many times. Yes, he was an evil sumbitch who did horrific, manipulative, murderous things. He also did have a lot of love for those he considered "family". You can say that he only wanted his son's love to stroke his ego, but what about Holly? He couldn't force her to love him, all he had was that tender moment, and he meant it. You can say he was cynically manipulating Skyler in that shot, but that's just ridiculous.

Walter is a complex character, large, multitudes, all of that.

I don't know if I fully believe he was going to go kill Jesse. I mean, I guess if I thought about it enough, from his perspective, he was going to go there to kill the Nazis and Jesse. I hadn't given that part thought, as I was seeing it purely from my perspective and what I knew.

He gave Jesse a choice. We can say he chickened out because he didn't want to kill himself, and he wanted Jesse to have the guilt of killing Walt or the relief and redemption of killing Walt, who knows, exactly what his motives were. Maybe, like everything Walt did, they were complex.

I just don't get people who insist on a straight clean clinical narrative.
posted by symbioid at 9:05 AM on September 30, 2013 [26 favorites]


there's absolutely no good to come out of arguing shit like this on a web site

Well, it's often fun and fascinating to hear what other folks have to say about art you deeply love. I've, er, sometimes had trouble separating my emotions out when I "dislike a notion" or two they're saying, but if I can get on top of that little problem, it's really fun to engage. I think this argument from Linda Holmes, for example, is interesting and worth talking about as a counter to what she sees as Gilligan's "fundamentally sympathetic" ending for Walt:

Do Skyler and Walter Jr. not have the right to make the decision not to accept the money? Is that not their own choice? Is that not Skyler's own grasp at grace?

What is the more loving gesture: to figure out what you think is best for someone and then figure out how to manipulate them into doing it, or to accept that they are individuals with the autonomous right to live as they choose, and not as you think they should? To me, Walt's manipulation of the money was in no way redemptive, or loving, or sympathetic. It was a continuing megalomaniacal scheme to get his way, no matter what, no matter who he had to threaten to kill.

posted by mediareport at 9:05 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


What kept the Breaking Bad finale from being entirely satisfying for me was that because Walt's grotesque behavior came largely from his desire for power and control, a balanced ending would be one that denied him some measure of control. I wanted the balance to emerge from Walt not ending things on his own terms.

I don't think Walt did end things on his own terms. The last thing he heard from Flynn was "Why are you still alive?!" (a great line). He had to watch Flynn (Walt, Jr) from afar to say goodbye. He had to see Skyler in a crappy apartment, Holly's crib crammed into the bedroom. And finally, Walt's preferred controlled ending, his own death -- sliding the gun, telling Jesse to do it, saying, "It's what I want" -- was not to be. Jesse would not comply, denying Walt his last demand.

The Schwartzes, the Nazis, none of that was really, ultimately, finally what he wanted to control.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why some people are so intent on making Walt a "Monster" or "A victim" Why can't he be both? Why do we insist on one dimensional characters?

Nuanced thought is hard.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind, meaning Jesse wasn't looking into his eyes while screaming 'fuck you' over and over.

The snapping sounds almost made up for that though.
"

Everybody has their breaking point.
posted by symbioid at 9:08 AM on September 30, 2013


There's some crazy theories here... obvs Jessie is going to go and team up with Badger and Skinny Pete and get the band back on the road. Probably call it Invisible Hitmen or something.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on September 30, 2013


obvs Jessie is going to go and team up with Badger and Skinny Pete and get the band back on the road.

...to break into Hell and pull Walt out. Because this is not over until Jesse says so.
posted by emmtee at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2013


There's some crazy theories here... obvs Jessie is going to go and team up with Badger and Skinny Pete and get the band back on the road. Probably call it Invisible Hitmen or something.

Shouldn't it be called TwaughtHammer?
posted by ish__ at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2013


A New Yorker reviewer crystallizes why I thought this was a 'meh'-grade (that's less than a B) finale episode.
posted by Bwithh at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the New Yorker:

I mean, wouldn’t this finale have made far more sense had the episode ended on a shot of Walter White dead, frozen to death, behind the wheel of a car he couldn’t start?

Not only no way in hell, but it would have been right up there with LOST and Dexter for worst idea ever.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


crystallizes

I see what you did there.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't it be called TwaughtHammer?

Yo, we're undercover, bitch!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:30 AM on September 30, 2013


Reading some of these reviews are great examples of why I make sure to keep peoples' expectations of me low.
posted by inigo2 at 9:31 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


From the New Yorker link :I mean, wouldn’t this finale have made far more sense had the episode ended on a shot of Walter White dead, frozen to death, behind the wheel of a car he couldn’t start? Certainly, everything that came after that moment possessed an eerie, magical feeling—from the instant that key fell from the car’s sun visor, inside a car that was snowed in.


I agree - when Walt was wondering in the car if the cops would find him or if the engine wood start, I couldn't hear very well, but I thought he was praying/making a deal with God - or maybe more likely the Devil? And then everything worked like magical clockwork. Which seemed a odd direction for the show to me
posted by Bwithh at 9:33 AM on September 30, 2013


So had a quick look again and I don't think Walter did actually palm the stivia as Lydia had it in her hands so he must have sneaked it before they arrived. I'm guessing he could have asked the staff if she had a regular table (then ordered a plate of beans)

But there's def purple in Marie's paintings in her kitchen. And also the drapes (though they are lit to appear very dark so it's not noticeable)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2013


I'm not sure I can fault the show for not showing what meth addiction is like

I think I can. The show's focus on Walt and his family only goes so far to explain why there couldn't be any indication of the effects the blue meth was having on the larger community, and on more than a handful of addicts. The writers were more than capable of integrating side stories into the main one - The Cousins' childhood, e.g. Hell, even a single one of the show's great music montages would have helped - showing the overworked single mothers who start using to help get through multiple low-wage jobs to raise a family, party kids who quickly spiral down, etc. I mean, we were encouraged to care about those airplane crash victims far more than about the thousands of folks who were buying Walt's product, many of whose lives were ruined, we can assume.

It always seemed weird to me that we got so little effort in that direction in Breaking Bad, and it's another fair criticism of the show.
posted by mediareport at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Reading some of these reviews are great examples of why I make sure to keep peoples' expectations of me low."

Is that you, Hal?

"By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seems there's a lot being made about this idea that Walt got the ending he wanted, and was firmly in control of the situation at the end. There's a new Wired article up based on this thesis, but I still don't see it.

Walt went to that compound expecting to punish Jesse for betraying him and take out the Nazis and himself all in one final grand self-destructive gesture. But it was only when he saw Jesse literally--not just figuratively--reduced to being a slave meth cook that he realized that he was no better than Todd and the Nazis himself. Seeing Jesse literally enslaved forced Walt to confront his own psychological manipulation of Jesse to keep him in the business long after it was clear Jesse wanted out. In the end, Walt got one last revelation about just how awful he really was, and then he died. It takes a sadist not to see this as a pretty horrible and unforgiving end for the guy, even if there is a remote chance his final plan may have left some of his victims slightly better off.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [24 favorites]


There is plenty of evidence about what meth addiction is like. Wendy, the "Peekabo" parents, the shovel guys, etc.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:37 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


ish__: "Regarding the method for poisoning Lydia. Every time she's at the shop previously there isn't any stevia when she asks for it. And this time theres a single packet waiting (and of course, she asks for more). "

This sounds right to me. Good catch!
posted by Big_B at 9:37 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I couldn't hear very well, but I thought he was praying/making a deal with God - or maybe more likely the Devil?

He was looking in the rear view mirror when he said that, which gave me a slight Gollum-at-the-water vibe. Like he was asking Heisenberg to get him home, and then he--Walt--would do the rest.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


"My hope is that Jesse's car runs out of gas in Pawnee, Indiana, where he will be no odder than the average citizen and significantly less odd than some. Eventually, Ron Swanson takes him on as a woodworking apprentice."

Someone please write this fanfic. PLEASE.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:40 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


And then everything worked like magical clockwork. Which seemed a odd direction for the show to me

I didn't have subtitles, but he was definitely very quietly praying to me. I don't feel like it was an odd direction to take though. So much of this show has had luck and happenstance figure into things (to both tragic and heart-stopping effect).

Also both in the show itself and in talking about the writing, Gilligan's always been clear that this show takes place in a 'moral' sort of universe where one way or another everyone gets what's coming to them as a result of the choices they make. That may be in an awful monkey's paw "the thing you wanted in the worst way" or not.

It felt okay to me because Walt was in his own sick way now doing all these things for much less selfish reasons than he was prior to that long stay in the cabin. And not everything went off without a hitch. I don't think he intended to die, though he thought it extraordinarily likely, and even if he didn't in that moment, the cancer was back. I don't think he figured on Jesse being anything less than a partner of Jack's. The whole business with his car keys getting taken clearly wasn't something he'd counted on. I'm pretty sure he expected Jesse to kill him too.

Anyway, I was fine with it overall. The nitpicking is valid discussion to have, but for me it all hung together. I've quite liked the idea that Donna Bowman at the AV Club and others have brought up that in a certain sense the show climaxed with Ozymandias, and these last two have just been an epilogue (and a good one). I feel that way too.
posted by sparkletone at 9:42 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


He was looking in the rear view mirror when he said that, which gave me a slight Gollum-at-the-water vibe. Like he was asking Heisenberg to get him home, and then he--Walt--would do the rest.


Ditto, very much ditto. Not a prayer to a higher power, but a prayer to part of himself.

Arguably though, it was Heisenberg praying to Walt to get him home, then he - Heisenberg - would do the rest.
posted by ish__ at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep. Everything after Ozymandias is denouement.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Based on the "Is this the best you can do?" woodworking scene and the silent exchange between Walt and Jesse I was really hoping that right before he died Walt would have seen whatever piece of equipment measures purity with a piece of Jesse's meth in it that read "99% pure" just as a final little victory for Jesse over Walt.

Other than that I'm still pretty much just trying exhale. Thanks BB.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:44 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wendy, the "Peekabo" parents, the shovel guys, etc.

Take out the "etc." and that's the handful I was talking about - one prostitute, 2 heavily addicted neglectful parents and the junkies who wound up with the stolen Pollos Hermanos batter bucket. Are there others?

Everything after Ozymandias is denouement.

I kinda figured that was obvious. After that episode ended, I turned to my friends and said "It's all denouement from here."
posted by mediareport at 9:48 AM on September 30, 2013


I couldn't hear very well, but I thought he was praying/making a deal with God - or maybe more likely the Devil?

We can't be the only ones who let out a triumphant "Universe, you've done it again!" when the keys fell out of the sun guard thing in the car.

That Tumblr has it right, the two characters 100% seriously are really similar. Although there's maybe solace in the fact Tobias turned himself and his family blue over four seasons where it took Walt five.
posted by emmtee at 9:53 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Are there others?

I'm not sure why you need more than three disconnected examples to demonstrate the connection between Walt's drug output and the human misery it causes. I think they're ample to attach real horror to "blue meth is still out there." One of the nice things about BB was that it treated its viewers as competent to pick up observed facts without adopting after-school-special levels of driving a point home.
posted by fatbird at 9:53 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Are there others?

The dozens and dozens of people at Jesse's parties.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, there's some really interesting thoughts in that New Yorker link, but I don't see how that writer would've been satisfied at almost anything. They seemed to want a .... I hesitate to use this phrase but can't think of a better, an artier ending. Something with more of that shock that the Sopranos caused and prestige dramas are all still living very much in the shadow of.

And that's something that was brought up on Talking Bad. I very much agree with Vince's response about how you have to do the right ending for your show, and that he didn't feel he was making something that a Sopranos-style ending would've worked for. I feel like the closest he could've gotten is the "kick in the teeth" ending of everyone and everything dying and Walt being left alive, but I still feel like that wouldn't have satisfied the writer of the NYer piece.

She also brings up a lot of "how exactly did small plot point X really work" stuff, which I guess speaks to the level of failure of this finale to work for her. I can't think of anything ever (even certain aspects of The Wire) that hold up to that kind of scrutiny. The show was a long episode, we don't need a bunch of shoe leather scenes of Walt finding, say, Badger and Pete and talking them into helping him. We know they're going to one way or another, why waste our time on that? Bigger fish to fry.
posted by sparkletone at 9:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's cruel is that this is a rare Monday off for me and I'm pacing the floor waiting for the final Breaking Bad Insider podcast to go up. They said it would go up later than usual, but cheeze louise, have mercy on a guy, ya know?
posted by Kinbote at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you can add Jane and even Jesse to list of characters where we see the human misery caused by meth use. Sure, Jane is sort of killed "by" Walt in the sense that he lets her die, but she's really a victim of meth use. Same goes for Jesse when he's using. In those periods, he's also a victim of the meth.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:58 AM on September 30, 2013


The final episode had an artificial quality to it, something a bit off, a sense of wish fulfillment. It almost plays out as something like fan service to the "Heisenberg fans" in the crowd. It's surely intentional. The creators of the show are masters at tone, and they didn't steer the show off course in the last hour. What they did provide was two different endings, for two different viewers. I was the viewer that wanted the bleak undoing of a pathetic, monstrous man. No redemption for a man so completely blinded by his narcissism, so completely in thrall with his invented justifications, that he committed murder and ruined lives over and over consistently from start to finish. I got the ending I wanted with the penultimate episode. Walt living out his days in that cold, featureless cabin, growing sicker, with no one else around him to hear his bullshit. Knowing that his family hates him, that he has hardly any of his vast wealth, and that the wealth he does have is useless because he can't give it away or do anything with it. This is the end game for all his machinations. "One day you're going to visit me and I'll be dead." I'd like to think that this is the way things really play out. This is Walt Reality.

There's an important shot toward the end of that penultimate episode, where Walt puts on the Heisenberg hat one last time. We see a camera angle behind Walt as he puts it on, and it's one of those clever shots where the viewer is implicated - it's like we're putting on the hat. We're entering Heisenberg Reality. This is underlined once more in the final episode with the prayer / talking to himself - just one last Heisenberg wish fulfillment fantasy, and we're out. It's like a fever dream as he's dying in that cabin, where he gets to pull off one last grandiose Heisenberg plan and make everything right. It's not far-fetched to think this - from the first season to the last, the show has always had this bizarre quality where we vascillate between Walt Reality and Heisenberg Reality. It's done not in a Mulholland Drive way, but very subtly: Bryan Cranston's expressions and body movements seem to signal seismic shifts in the show's subjective reality from one moment to the next. He's weak and frail in the end, and can barely summon Heisenberg to possess his body, but he's able to do it for one last chance at redemption. Again, if you're a fan of Walt to the end, you'll get what you want: he demonstrates a modicum of humility and self-awareness that may redeem his character, if you're looking for his character to be redeemed.

But I think the creators are signalling in a number of ways that they're really with me: Walt dies as a sick, pathetic creature in a cabin in the Granite State, loved by no one, serving no one but himself.
posted by naju at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos, Jane was a heroin addict.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


it seems to me they don't need the coordinates to find Hank and Gomie. Can they not triangulate the location of his last cell phone call to Marie?

While they could probably get a precise location on a phone while it's connected to the network, they can't retroactively triangulate after it's not. They'd only know which cell tower it was connected to, and that could be miles away out in the desert.

What I want to know is how the cops showed up so quickly at the end. Did White Power Jack and the gang have neighbours near enough to report to the police that they'd heard the gunfire? Near enough that they'd know exactly where it came from? Would the cops respond to a report of someone hearing what they thought sounded like an automatic weapon by instantly sending out a full SWAT team? Maybe Walt called them before he went in, in case his elaborate scheme didn't work, taking a guess at how long it'd take for the response to arrive? Maybe it was Lydia...? It just seems a bit mysterious and random.
posted by sfenders at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Walt got what he wanted, but it's not what people are writing about. I disagree with Gilligan when he says, "[Walt] has managed to make his family financially sound in his absence, and that was really the only thing he set out to do in that first episode." Getting money to his family was a goal, but it was an instrumental goal, not an ultimate goal. He revealed his ultimate goal for the first time in conversation with Skyler this episode: once he discovered he was dying, he wanted to feel alive. A few episodes back, when Jesse told Hank that he wanted to hit Walt where he lives, there was debate about what Jesse really meant. It wasn't perfectly clear that he was talking about Walt's money. In one sense Walt was all about the money, and in another sense Walt was all about providing for his family, but these values were waypoints, in service to his ultimate goal of absolute freedom.

That's why this episode comes across as a vindication of Walt even though he sacrificed so much. The final scene, in which he looks lovingly on the meth lab equipment, is one of triumph. He beat cancer. Not by continuing to exist, but by living.

But the way to feel alive, according to this show, is to cast off anything that keeps you from being free. That includes moral obligations and familial ties. That's why there's a moral problematic at the heart of the series. When Walt admits to Skyler that he acts for himself, he casts off his bad faith and comes close to achieving complete authenticity: what Sartre called 'being-for-itself'. I think Gilligan and the writers are being unknowingly disingenuous when they suggest that Walt's redemption consisted in finally providing for his family. It's much more complicated and --- dare I say --- existential than that. This show posits that being an authentic person requires casting off all shackles, including moral shackles. I think the show really does cause the audience to empathize with outright selfishness and the ultimate male power fantasy. That's not an indictment of the show, because it doesn't necessarily justify this outlook. The show also causes us to question whether we should want such freedom.

(Or are these questions themselves the product of bad faith?)
posted by painquale at 10:01 AM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


without adopting after-school-special levels of driving a point home.

There's plenty of middle ground between the above and what I'd hoped to see more of about addiction, and the writers of Breaking Bad were more than capable of staking out some territory there, if they'd been so inclined.

I found myself occasionally wishing, during the years I've watched and enjoyed the show, that they'd been so inclined.
posted by mediareport at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


naju: "The final episode had an artificial quality to it, something a bit off, a sense of wish fulfillment. It almost plays out as something like fan service to the "Heisenberg fans" in the crowd. It's surely intentional. The creators of the show are masters at tone, and they didn't steer the show off course in the last hour. What they did provide was two different endings, for two different viewers. I was the viewer that wanted the bleak undoing of a pathetic, monstrous man. No redemption for a man so completely blinded by his narcissism, so completely in thrall with his invented justifications, that he committed murder and ruined lives over and over consistently from start to finish. I got the ending I wanted with the penultimate episode."

Interesting you use "fan service" and the idea of 2 different endings - seeing this as a Neon Genesis sort of thing?

Also - Heisenberg - uncertainty principle. Who is Walt? Is he the monster? Is he a(n anti-) hero? A tragic character caught up in events more than he ever imagined? A victim of his own narcissism? Look at one, you don't see the other.

I like this - it satisfies both parties.

The ones whinging about the "satisfactory ending" are being a bit ironic considering they're not very satisfied. They're just bitter that the masses don't agree with them.

And yet - if they had their way? If Walt died in the snow, one of the most innocent people in the show (aside from Brock), the one we're all REALLY rooting for (I think, at least) would have been left to die.

How does *that* play into your morality tale, you sick bastards. If Walt died before the Nazi scene, Jesse would never have been freed, and most likely, killed outright, all because you wanted the one to get vengeance. And doesn't your desire for vengeance sort of make you the monster? I mean - some people wanted Walt to be taken by the DEA/Police to at least have "Justice" in the proper sense, and then I guess I can't fault you, but to those who wanted a horrific sad desperate lonely end for Walt (I think he got that to some degree, but apparently not enough for some people), the ramifications of your vengeful desires means Jesse dies, and the Nazis live.

How does that make you feel to be on the side of Nazis?
(That's right - I just Godwinned Heisenberg!)
posted by symbioid at 10:13 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


But the way to feel alive, according to this show, is to cast off anything that keeps you from being free.

It follows the "Is Walt evil" argument, but I think if I were writing the sentence above, I would say: "But the way to feel alive, according to Walt, is to cast off ..."

I think the show, the writing, the directing, the plots, the arc, all point us to the conclusion that Walt's way is worse than death. We know that Walt was, from moment one, a dead man walking. In his quest to "feel alive," even though he was dying, he destroyed everyone around him to some extent. I think he knows that, and I think the "show" is acknowledging it, not refuting it by showing him patting his equipment just before he drops. It's a cold comfort to be left with that, but it was all he had.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:15 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait - sorry... I'll try to stop...

Breaking Bad: Bill Nye meets Old Boy.
posted by symbioid at 10:21 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love the show, but at a certain point it's just necessary to accept that it was a TV serial and anything beyond titillation is gravy. It can't ever make any real sense.
posted by planetesimal at 10:22 AM on September 30, 2013


That's why this episode comes across as a vindication of Walt even though he sacrificed so much. The final scene, in which he looks lovingly on the meth lab equipment, is one of triumph. He beat cancer. Not by continuing to exist, but by living.

He bled out, alone on the floor, from a gunshot wound in a high end meth lab. I don't see how that's a triumph. One woman who loved him, Gretchen, is disgusted with and hates him, while being disgusted with herself for ever loving him. Skyler can barely stand to deal with him. All those scenes of him being surrounded by friends and family at hospitals or at home and not a single one of those people want to be around him at end. Some actively rooted for his death.

He didn't get what he wanted, he simply made peace with what was coming to him, being surrounded by chemicals and metal as he drifted. Whatever triumph he thinks he got was in his own messed up mind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


This NPR piece, while not something I agree with in many respects, comes with a rare sane comparison to Lost. While Lost wasn't anywhere near as narratively satisfying to me (or to most people as far as I can tell), I can see their point.
posted by sparkletone at 10:23 AM on September 30, 2013


I have not seen it elsewhere but this blurb about the box set says it will include an alternate ending.
posted by maggieb at 10:25 AM on September 30, 2013


I have not seen it elsewhere but this blurb about the box set says it will include an alternate ending.

Turns out naju's yakety sax joke will be coming almost true...
posted by sparkletone at 10:27 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


symbioid - great mention of the Uncertainty Principle, I think it's a continuing theme throughout the show of the tension between the Walt/Heisenberg sympathies of the audience, and the moral implications of that. Also note that throughout this final season, we were continually treated to characters "interpreting" Breaking Bad, seeing it through distorted subjective lenses, changing key facts to fit their needs and egos. Three instances:

1) The tape that Walt gives to Hank completely changes the show based on the key facts we know

2) Todd's retelling of the train robbery sequence

3) The Nazis watching and laughing at Jesse's confession tape

This lends further support to my theory that we really got 2 endings, and we can use our own interpretation of everything that's gone before to choose the moral universe we want the show to end with. Vince Gilligan really did sidestep the Sopranos ambiguity dilemma, and instead of offering a 1 or a 0, he gave us both and let us figure out which one we really saw.
posted by naju at 10:33 AM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


What I want to know is how the cops showed up so quickly at the end.

I think that the sound of the extended gunfire would have would have probably carried pretty far across the desert and prompted a call to the police. Also, looking at their compound (perimeter fence, barbed wire), I'm guessing it was probably a "known" property to local law enforcement. That combined with the fact that they knew Walt was back in town I think would have warranted a very quick response by the police, SWAT team and all.

Also, re: the stevia. Walt arrived before Lydia and put the ricin pack in the container and took all the other packs of stevia out. Lydia asked for more stevia, but we saw the waiter first stop at the table behind them to either check on the people sitting there or take their order. Then the camera breaks away to show Walt leaving and then back to the table where Lydia is pouring the ricin into her drink and I think the waiter is still talking to the table behind her. Walt met with Lydia once or twice at a place where they sat by the windows but that could very well have been a different place from where they had their regular Tuesday meetings he mentioned. He knew what table she would choose because she always sits at the same table.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:35 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


thinkpiece: In his quest to "feel alive," even though he was dying, he destroyed everyone around him to some extent. I think he knows that, and I think the "show" is acknowledging it, not refuting it by showing him patting his equipment just before he drops. It's a cold comfort to be left with that, but it was all he had.

Brandon Blatcher: He didn't get what he wanted, he simply made peace with what was coming to him, being surrounded by chemicals and metal as he drifted.

If you didn't feel that Walt wasn't presented as redeemed or victorious, then it won't be a convincing analysis of how he was presented as victorious. But I will point out that a lot of viewers and critics have been turned off by what they feel to be a sense of success in the ending, and that Gilligan himself has claimed that people who want Walt to be redeemed will be most happy with the ending. So in terms of at least authorial intent and a large portion of audience response, there is some victory or redemption in the ending.

I think it's at the very least not clear-cut; it's at the very least ambiguous about whether the show wants you to think that Walt failed or succeeded. As long as there's that ambiguity, there are questions about what his ultimate values are. Walt was finally honest with himself when with Skyler and admitted he did it all because he wanted to be alive. For most of the series, he did feel alive. There's at least a victory in that sense. Whether you think he was ultimately victorious is a question about whether his ultimate values lie with his family or with his freedom, and I am not sure it is obvious that the show sides with family.
posted by painquale at 10:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I want to know is how the cops showed up so quickly at the end.

We don't actually know how long that was.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


And yet - if they had their way? If Walt died in the snow, one of the most innocent people in the show (aside from Brock), the one we're all REALLY rooting for (I think, at least) would have been left to die.

I think I would have been happier with the ending if the whole Nazi thing happened as it did on the show, but 1. Walt was arrested instead of dying and 2. he never figured out how to get the money to his family.

However, my only two real wishes for the ending were for Jesse to live and for Felina to be referring to El Paso, and I got both, so my complaints are ultimately just minor gripes about what has been one of my favorite TV shows ever. And among those other favorite shows are Buffy and The X-Files, which both had, in my opinion, WAY worse and less satisfying endings.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is how the cops showed up so quickly at the end.

What everyone else has said, and Lydia calling the cops once Walt's off the phone.
posted by litleozy at 10:39 AM on September 30, 2013


Also, I am continually amazed how the writers managed to put in plot twists that no one had guessed at but which seemed so obvious in retrospect. Like everyone guessed Walt was going to find Elliot and Gretchen, but we all thought he was going to kill them. He was going to them to get them to launder the money and give it to his family. That's perfect! And seemed so obvious but of everything I read, all the theories, I didn't see even one that guessed that one.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


one of the most innocent people in the show

I dunno, we all liked the lovable fuckup and wanted his suffering to end already, but the dude went to NA meetings *to sell recovering addicts meth* that he stole from Gus Fring. He started cooking meth on his own with Badger when he and Walt split up after disposing of their first body. He paid a prostitute to murder two rival drug dealers with ricin in their hamburgers as revenge for killing his friend, who was selling meth for Jesse.

He was a great character: a weak person with redeeming flashes of conscience and heart-wrenching empathy, who was bullied and beaten to the point of breaking, but calling him "one of the most innocent people in the show" seems a little off-base.
posted by mediareport at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Gilligan himself has claimed that people who want Walt to be redeemed will be most happy with the ending

I saw him on Talking Bad last night and he seemed to pretty thoroughly embrace every theory folks were chucking his way! Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was interested to see how, um, open he was to other reads of his material.

What I will say, to accommodate ambiguity, is that what great storytelling does for me, is let me bring my own eyes and experiences to strange world, and lets see me in there somewhere, and makes me feel like I am being communicated with and understood, spoken to and spoken for -- despite setting or circumstances or any other signifiers. I've been through a lot, and stand here today against the odds, and I am sure that colors my view of the ending as absolutely non-redemptive (let alone victorious) for Walt.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you haven't watched it, I wouldn't read this thread any further. Seasons 1-5.5 are on Netflix. Then you can buy the current season on Amazon instant watch.

The entire series available on Netflix U.K. now. I use Unblock-Us to view all available Netflixes. I suspect the final 8 episodes will be available on Netflix U.S. months from now.
posted by juiceCake at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whether you think he was ultimately victorious is a question about whether his ultimate values lie with his family or with his freedom, and I am not sure it is obvious that the show sides with family.

The show definitely sides with Walt, through all his negatives and positives. It's up to the viewer to decide which is which.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just hopping in to say I completely agree with marsha56.

Perhaps more like a Clockwork Orange eyelids-held-open lesson about violence that would have made us more queasy than satisfied.

I think that would've been the point, and as marsha56 says the show's been brave but then lost its nerve at the end, which is disappointing. Sepinwall or someone, I can't remember exactly, pointed out that stuff like Todd being a stand-in for Nussbaum's "Bad Fan" and the Nazis watching Jesse's video and laughing being like an aspect of the audience watching BB, turns the gross "fuck yeah" triumph stuff of before (it still boggles my mind there are "I am the one who knocks" t-shirts out there) on its head. That Salon article about how the show is best read as a subtle take-down of the antihero thing so prevalent these days was the only one I found palatable by the time I'd reached season 5, after 4's endless parade of just how horrible a human being Walt is (specifically because, as marsha56 mentioned, the Wire-y notion people matter, everybody matters, and yes that complicates things but that's as it should be, flies directly against Walt's entire mindset, and the from the get-go perspective of the entire show as mentioned in this thread ["It's always been about Walt"]--we got clobbered over the head over and over and fucking over with moments of shocking, horrifying disregard for anybody who wasn't important enough, things like Walt having the laundromat women clean the lab just as a lazy fuck you to Gus with no consideration of what would happen to them as a result). This is not about viewer revenge/wanting punishment for vindictiveness' sake but a corrective for the mindset the show purports to present and slowly seemed to be revealing as hollow. I couldn't understand from a naive characterization-focused point of view why season 4 dragged on with Walt's monstrous displays of not giving a shit about anybody but himself (like, "we GET it already!") and how much destruction it caused (the domestic unease scenes with Skyler literally made me feel like vomiting) until I read that Salon article and the idea it's more about suffering watching this guy and his quest for a restored masculinity narrative, because that's the consequence, the honest endgame of these myths of masculinity and power, where they lead to but TV/drama often glosses over. I realize a lot of viewers and critics hate that sort of Funny Games accusatory stance but I thought given the cultural context it was great. Then the ending happened and yeah. Ugh.

I was also dreading the high chance Walt would be the one to save Jesse (who, by the way, I absolutely wanted to get out alive and...as ok as someone who's been through what he has can be).
posted by ifjuly at 10:57 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the texture of Breaking Bad has always been these rollercoaster ups and downs between Walt's bursts of luck and cunning, the inevitable fall where he's begging for his life and crying in the dirt, and the denial when the next few lucky breaks let him believe he was always a mastermind. His runs of luck might have been implausible but there was always the plunge looming. It was never a show about a man the universe loved, but the finale kind of is. Given his restricted circumstances Walt gets everything he wants, particularly in other people acting exactly as he might wish them to. An Eliot as unmasculine as Walt imagines him, a Skyler willing to hear his last confession, police incompetent enough that he can go and do as he pleases, Nazis so careless at every step as to allow him his victory, a Lydia who happens to call just so Walt can enjoy his victory, even Jesse as someone else's victim, ready to be rescued and ride on out of Walt's life so he can feel he saved somebody at the end.

I respect the writers enough to be really, really suspicious about it all.
posted by emmtee at 10:59 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think Gilligan and the writers are being unknowingly disingenuous when they suggest that Walt's redemption consisted in finally providing for his family. It's much more complicated and --- dare I say --- existential than that.

There is definitely more of an uncomfortable ambivalence to this ending than I had expected. There is a lot to think about in that last scene. Where does Walt get closure in his last moments? In the empty lab—the place where he is an unqualified1 success. From the very first episode, Walt has been happiest, most alive, most himself when he is cooking—he gets more satisfaction from this abstract exercise of skill than from anything else. In every other sphere he has met with disaster, and, worse, disaster that he finally realizes is of his own making. He has utterly failed at providing for his family in any meaningful way. His attempts to become the badass criminal mastermind, "the one who knocks," have been revealed as the ridiculous fantasies that they are when a few bumbling Aryan Nations thugs are able to casually crumple his entire "empire" in an afternoon's work. His relationship with Jesse—always at its most collegial during the act of cooking, always strained at best the rest of time—lies in ruins entirely due to his own fuckups. The one thing that never blew up on him was the chemistry itself. "I was good at it." And as we're watching Walt caress the lab equipment Baby Blue comes up on the soundtrack:
Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long, my love
All that time without a word
Didn't know you'd think that I'd forget or I'd regret
The special love I had for you, my baby blue
The lyrics are downbeat but the music is peppy, almost cheerful, as though this is finally where Walt belongs. There is a very traditional masculine trope here: the world is confusing, other people keep screwing everything up by not doing what I want, I will retreat into a private realm of technical mastery over inanimate objects and thereby achieve fulfillment without needing anyone else. (See also Jesse's woodworker fantasy.) In this narrative, Walt's mistake wasn't in cooking meth, it was in caring about (and trying to control) anything beyond the lab—his family, his money, the "Heisenberg" image. Which is giving Walt a little more credit, I think, than he deserves.

Whether this narrative is the show creators' or Walt's final self-deception is a little ambiguous. Maybe a little of each.

1. Of course, there are also indications that Walt isn't as good a chemist as he thinks he is: the claim that the blue meth Jesse has been making is "better than ever," Elliott Schwartz's dismissal of his contributions to Gray Matter. But he is certainly better at cooking meth than at anything else he's tried to do.
posted by enn at 11:01 AM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Not a Walt apologist by any means, but here's where he/we began in this story:

Walter: Sometimes I feel like I never actually make any of my own. Choices, I mean. My entire life it just seems I never...you know, had a real say about any of it. Now this last one, cancer...all I have left is how I choose to approach this.
Skyler: Then make the right choice, Walt. You're not the only one it affects. What about your son? Don't you wanna see your daughter grow up? I just...
Walter: Of course I do. Skyler, you've read the statistics. These doctors...talking about surviving. One year, two years, like it's the only thing that matters. But what good is it, to just survive if I am too sick to work, to enjoy a meal, to make love? For what time I have left, I want to live in my own house. I want to sleep in my own bed. I don't wanna choke down 30 or 40 pills every single day, lose my hair, and lie around too tired to get up...and so nauseated that I can't even move my head. And you cleaning up after me? Me, with...some dead man, some artificially alive...just marking time? No. No. And that's how you would remember me. That's the worst part. So...that is my thought process, Skyler. I'm sorry. I just...I choose not to do it. (Gray Matter, S01E05)

And the episode (that I can't find) where Walt tells Jesse in the desert that, "...for the first time in my life, I feel alive."

posted by wensink at 11:01 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


AMC: "Breaking Bad" finale delivers 10.3 million viewers, over a previous high of 6.6 million for Granite State. The first season averaged 1.2 million viewers.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:17 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw him on Talking Bad last night and he seemed to pretty thoroughly embrace every theory folks were chucking his way! Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was interested to see how, um, open he was to other reads of his material.

He's talked in various interviews and such that he very much subscribes to the idea that the show, like most art, has two lives. There's the one that he gets to experience as he's making it (and possibly never more so than with these last episodes), and then there's the life it lives as something other people experience and are affected by, and not just that but that the audience reaction is somewhat more valid than his own thoughts. He's responded to a lot of fan Q&A questions and such with "Well, how did it make you feel?" It's one of the most admirable qualities in him as an artist, I think.

In particular with regard to the ending he's brought up that duality when asked if he was nervous about how the ending would go over. He said that he was, because while everyone who worked on it felt satisfied by this ending, if it got broadcast and everyone hated it, he'd have to confront with whether they were wrong or had made some error that caused people to not "get it" or what.

Doesn't seem like he's going to have to face the second of those two outcomes to me.
posted by sparkletone at 11:18 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It seems like some misgivings with the ending hinge on believing whether or not Walt was capable of changing even a little bit.

I believe his encounter with Holly was the catalyst for a change in him. I think it was the first time where he really understood his actions have consequences and those consequences matter. In some ways, it flipped his switch from 'Heisenberg' to 'Walt.'

So he leaves with this in mind. He has time to stew in New Hampshire. He's ready to give up once he realizes he'll never be able to accomplish his Heisenberg Goal (providing for his family and receiving the credit for it, running an empire, etc) after his call with Flynn, so he calls the cops. He's done.

Then he sees Gretchen and Eliot and realizes there's another way, and, there's still unfinished business. He goes to do something awful (ie, murdering a bunch of people) but with a different mindset, one that is not turned completely inward, one that recognizes the importance of the consequences of his actions on the people around him. A mindset, at least partially, looking out for the interest of other people (family [which I think includes Jess]).

I don't think Walt had a redemptive moment, a come to Jesus turn of heart where he suddenly became good and precious and an actual hero. But for me, that small turn from living completely for himself to the recognition that other people matter was enough for me to take some small satisfaction in the way things played out.

At the end of the day, it was mostly Walt who achieved his goals - not Heisenberg. If I didn't believe in that change, though (however slight it may be) I probably would have some serious problems with how everything ended.
posted by Tevin at 11:18 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


An Eliot as unmasculine as Walt imagines him, a Skyler willing to hear his last confession, police incompetent enough that he can go and do as he pleases, Nazis so careless at every step as to allow him his victory, a Lydia who happens to call just so Walt can enjoy his victory,

Not to mention, the Nazi who greets him even spends some time admiring and complimenting his car*. Talk about masculine id fantasy. The more you examine the ending, the more illusory it becomes.

* and saying something about "displacement" - tellingly?
posted by naju at 11:20 AM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


We don't actually know how long that was.

I had to go back and watch it again to see if maybe Mr. White was lying dead on the floor there for a couple of days before the forces of law enforcement moved in and found him, but no... not much time could have passed.

But the other explanations are plausible. The thing that slightly bothers me is that there are several more that would also be plausible. I guess triggerfinger most likely has it right about which one we're meant to assume happened.
posted by sfenders at 11:21 AM on September 30, 2013


a Lydia who happens to call just so Walt can enjoy his victory,

Lydia knew what time Walt was coming, and she didn't call Walt, she called Todd.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just before Walt dies, he sees (we see?) an unbroken reflection in the metal vat. Nice visual callback.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


So far, I seem to be the only one drinking the chamomile tea with Stevia I brought to work today. Sadness.
posted by klausman at 11:24 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just before Walt dies, he sees (we see?) an unbroken reflection in the metal vat. Nice visual callback.

I also liked how we can see Skylar's face reflected in the microwave (?) when she and Walt are talking in the kitchen.
posted by klausman at 11:26 AM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of mirror images, the 52 made of bacon was also a mirror image.
posted by maggieb at 11:27 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was relieved by this ending, in the sense that it wasn't awful, and my biggest wish at the end of the series was that they not trip right at the finishing line. But I will admit to being one of the people who thought it was just too tidy.

Scaring Gretchen and Elliot into setting up the trust fund--that's something I can see Walt pulling off. They are very sheltered, and that part seemed plausible enough to me. And I don't think it would be all that hard to get Lydia to use a Stevia packet that has ricin inside. I could buy that. Caressing Holly, a small reconciliation with Skyler, a final glimpse of Flynn--all touching and believable.

But then we get to the part where a dying man takes out all the Nazis single handedly, frees Jesse and dies on his own terms. And that was a step too far for me. I think it would have been a much stronger episode if one of his long-shot schemes completely failed. He can't reach his keys. Jack brings Jesse up and Walt sees just how much he has ruined former partner. Jack then dispatches Walt with a quick shot to the head, Jesse is marched back to the lab, and in the final shot of the episode one of the Nazis opens the truck and says "Holy shit, boys, come look at this!" Then they disassemble the rig and add the gun to their arsenal. Finis.

My tastes might run darker than others, but the whole point of the series until now seemed to be that if you play this game it will all go to hell. And for it to go down perfectly for Walt: Flynn gets the money, Skyler gets a bargaining chip, Lydia dies, the Nazis are gone, and Jesse goes free before Walt dies peacefully in the lab was just too much. It ran counter to what we've seen before, and left the impression that Walt could have been the undisputed meth king of the world if he had only been as smart all the time as he was on that day.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:27 AM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


Also, I haven't re-watched the episode where he killed Mike, but didn't he basically go out the same way Mike did? Shot in the gut, but at peace with it, calmly waiting to bleed out. I think Mike taught him how to die. That was a nice touch.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:28 AM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


"dies on his own terms"

He didn't, though. He wanted Jesse to pull the trigger and didn't get it.
posted by Tevin at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having slept on it, I think I'm most content viewing Ozymandias as the end of the main story/Walter White, with Granite State+Felina the epilogue. Aside from being probably the best episode of the show (for me, it pairs nicely with my other favorite, Fly), I feel better about the role the Peckerwoods take in this view. Rather than being a late addition super-villain, they become more a random chaotic element introduced to even out all the luck Walt enjoyed over the course of the show. Them being gunned down in the epilogue becomes more of a foot-note that was necessary to give us the final showdown between Walt and Jesse.

Just speaking personally of course, but I feel perfectly content with this viewing of the overall story arc.
posted by mannequito at 11:29 AM on September 30, 2013


So far, I seem to be the only one drinking the chamomile tea with Stevia I brought to work today.

I never saw any other episode of the show but this one last night and I still knew Lydia was evil because you do not put milk or sweetener in a tisane, people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:30 AM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I also liked how we can see Skylar's face reflected in the microwave (?) when she and Walt are talking in the kitchen.

Vince Gilligan admitted on Talking Bad that the shot was a total accident and he didn't even notice it into he was in the editing room. An editor pointed it out by complementing him on the shot and he didn't know what the editor was talking about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


He didn't, though. He wanted Jesse to pull the trigger and didn't get it.

Okay, he didn't quite get exact perfect ending he wanted. But he died minutes later, in the same place, knowing his family was provided for and he had mown down the people who killed Hank and stole his money. If it wasn't 100% the way he wanted, it was 98.5. And it sure wasn't lying in pain in a hospice room, frail and puking his guts out. He went out on top. It's hard for me to read "oh, but Jesse didn't pull the trigger" as a major deviation from the course he had set. And, clearly, he didn't go there planning to ask Jesse to kill him. That was improvisation. It might have been a bonus, but that wasn't the plan when he drove in.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:36 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was always amused by that, EC--Lydia's supposed to seem so, I dunno, with-it and metropolitan and in control or whatever, so she can be all snobby as fuck the first time we see her ordering tea, but her order is ghastly. That always tickled me a bit. Went with her actually flipping out and being weak in her own way in private thing. "That stevia crap" indeed.
posted by ifjuly at 11:37 AM on September 30, 2013


Not to mention the awful simulacrum of sweetness that is stevia. Yuck!
posted by planetesimal at 11:37 AM on September 30, 2013


He wanted Jesse to pull the trigger and didn't get it.

Did Walt want that for himself, or because he thought it's what Jesse wanted / would help Jesse find some retribution?
posted by inigo2 at 11:41 AM on September 30, 2013


New podcast is up.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:42 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


that small turn from living completely for himself to the recognition that other people matter was enough for me to take some small satisfaction in the way things played out.

Except he is dead and done, and they must live on with the terrible consequences of his "I want to feel alive," actions. For me, the question remains, Does Walt regret the burden of the legacy? I think maybe yes, given the scene with Skyler in the kitchen, when he finally cops to the truth. I think maybe no, given the last, pointless, nihilistic attempt at manipulating Jesse into putting him out of his misery. To control his ending, to control Jesse, to try and subvert Jesse's nature again, more, finally. Remember how he stood back and watched Jesse strangling Todd? Did not jump in to help, did not shoot Todd? Almost egging him on by his inaction. That seemed to me to be on par with the previous horrors he'd unflinchingly inflicted on people around him, all in the name of Heisenberg, his manly-man bits. Left with his only love, the vats, the chemistry.

I don't know!
posted by thinkpiece at 11:44 AM on September 30, 2013


To be fair, Walt was shot up at the time Jesse was strangling Todd. And shooting at someone who's rolling on the floor with someone else is a great way to shoot the wrong person.
posted by Mister_A at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lydia knew what time Walt was coming, and she didn't call Walt, she called Todd.

Yeah, I know. But circumstances happened to conspire to deliver Walt the satisfaction of confirming his 'win' over her just when he could enjoy it, is what I'm saying.

I think, to run with the 'events conspiring to give Walt the wrap-up he most wanted given the limited range of endings now available to him and maybe what we saw was not 100% reality' interpretation for a moment, Jesse shooting Walt there might not have been what he actually hoped would happen. Like, he was accepting it as a possibility and was certainly ready to die, but I can imagine something in Walt hoping Jesse would put down the gun and walk away, maybe demonstrate some lingering loyalty or even gratitude, which we know Walt thought Jesse owed him not long ago, despite everything. I think he wanted to see Jesse given the opportunity and refuse to take it. Make a rough kind of amends between them in Walt's mind, I don't know. I can certainly imagine Walt going to his death there quietly pleased that Jesse walked away.
posted by emmtee at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


how the show is best read as a subtle take-down of the antihero thing so prevalent these days was the only one I found palatable by the time I'd reached season 5.

Yes. This was a great show, better than so many others, but can we please be done now with shows that delight in having the audience identify with terrible people who do monstrous things? The Sopranos, Dexter, Mad Men, Weeds, Breaking Bad . . . I am just waiting to see how this will happen in Orange Is the New Black where I can only guess that the heroine will eventually be running the prison mafia. Maybe I am unsophisticated and polyanna-ish, but I would really enjoy having more HBO- and Showtime-caliber shows like Louie, that follow a basically-good-though-flawed person who actually has a moral compass and is trying to do the right thing most of the time, and in general gets through life without killing anyone or committing other major felonies, which is --right? -- how most of us actually live our lives.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:50 AM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I know. But circumstances happened to conspire to deliver Walt the satisfaction of confirming his 'win' over her just when he could enjoy it, is what I'm saying.

It's TV! It's entertainment. It's comforting because of the symmetries and tidy endings and things we don't get to experience in real life.
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did Walt want that for himself, or because he thought it's what Jesse wanted / would help Jesse find some retribution?

When he said that, I was taking it as a "suicide by cop" kind of request (well, okay, "suicide by former meth partner").

I read it as the initial request being an appeal to "I'm asking this to give Jesse a chance to exact revenge because lo I am noble and Jesse needs closure," but Jesse asking him to say it's what he wanted was Jesse calling bullshit on that and forcing him to admit "no, you want this for yourself." And then Walt admitting yes, he wants to die, then Jesse saying no is how Jesse gets his retribution instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:55 AM on September 30, 2013 [26 favorites]


Yep that's how I saw it too, Empress.
posted by Mister_A at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2013


He didn't, though. He wanted Jesse to pull the trigger and didn't get it.

I don't think that's what happened. I think he only wanted to give Jesse the option to kill him.
posted by zixyer at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damon Lindelof retweets LOST haters.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2013


Yeah, what EC said. That sounds right.
posted by Tevin at 11:58 AM on September 30, 2013


roomthreeseventeen: "Damon Lindelof retweets LOST haters."

I'm pretty sure that Damon Lindelof takes comfort in the fact that these tweets are from people who say things like "LOST and Breaking Bad are similar shows." Also piles and piles of money.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2013


Damon Lindelof retweets LOST haters.

Buzzfeed retweets Lindelof retweeting LOST haters.

That said, I follow Lindelor on twitter and saw that earlier; there sure are some mean people out there...
posted by inigo2 at 12:02 PM on September 30, 2013


Not to mention, the Nazi who greets him even spends some time admiring and complimenting his car*. Talk about masculine id fantasy.

I read this the other way. Of course some fuckin' awful monster of a white power guy is going to be the kind of guy that bloviates a bit about how sweet your stolen ride is. I don't really see it relating to the power fantasies. Walt's quite powerless in that moment. They could've just shot him on the spot and gone about their day. He's not a cool guy with a cool car getting complimented by cool dudes. He's a scared guy that just had his robogun trigger device confiscated and no one's standing in the firing arc of the gun yet, and now this evil asshole that shot his brother in law is rambling about his car.
posted by sparkletone at 12:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damon Lindelof retweets LOST haters.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:57 AM on September 30 [+] [!]


I assume that Damon has been having the time of his life secretly laughing at both LOST fans and haters
posted by Bwithh at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2013


How does *that* play into your morality tale, you sick bastards. If Walt died before the Nazi scene, Jesse would never have been freed, and most likely, killed outright, all because you wanted the one to get vengeance.

Well what's disappointing in all of it is that it's not like the show ever shied away from showing how Walt's actions had awful effects on innocent bystanders. So it would have been entirely consistent with literally everything else in the entire story for Walt's actions to have nothing but terrible effects on the world.

Especially including his family getting nothing but despair and suffering. They'd be just a few more victims of the plane collision.

But instead, they at least get some money. And Jesse is freed. And Hank is avenged. And it just felt a little bit like fan service and half-measures.

He should've died anonymous and alone, without the badass blaze of glory ending.
posted by graphnerd at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


He should've died anonymous and alone, without the badass blaze of glory ending.

That's the fascinating part, Walt was badss in several ways. He was also a selfish ass. It's fitting that those traits are present in his demise.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


But was it even really a 'demise', in a dramatic sense? He was going to die no matter what. The way it happened made it his final victory, which seemed strange for such an unyielding and bleak show.
posted by graphnerd at 12:25 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Haha. Holy shit at some of the revelations in this final insider podcast. I'm only a few minutes in and already gobsmacked at some of the things they were considering. Vince is not fucking around when he says they consider every permutation.
posted by sparkletone at 12:32 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read this the other way. Of course some fuckin' awful monster of a white power guy is going to be the kind of guy that bloviates a bit about how sweet your stolen ride is. I don't really see it relating to the power fantasies. Walt's quite powerless in that moment. They could've just shot him on the spot and gone about their day. He's not a cool guy with a cool car getting complimented by cool dudes. He's a scared guy that just had his robogun trigger device confiscated and no one's standing in the firing arc of the gun yet, and now this evil asshole that shot his brother in law is rambling about his car.
posted by sparkletone 47 minutes ago [+]


Totally! Also, Walt is asked some detail about the engine (my ignorance showing) and he's baffled and says, "I have no idea."

Still, the car trope through the entire thing is a study in and of itself.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2013


Haha. Holy shit at some of the revelations in this final insider podcast. I'm only a few minutes in and already gobsmacked at some of the things they were considering. Vince is not fucking around when he says they consider every permutation.

Yikes. That basement thing that Vince pitched after the pilot. Shudder.
posted by Kinbote at 1:07 PM on September 30, 2013


Still, the car trope through the entire thing is a study in and of itself.

Wow: The car wash, the camper meth lab, the Pontiac Aztec, Walt and Jr going car shopping, Gus' and Walt's respective Volvos, Jesse and Mike bonding in the bagman car trips, the Mexican getaway — there's a lot there.

Hmm.. Gus' and Walt's respective Volvos. Now I really do kind of wonder whether the last episode is Walt's death dream.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:10 PM on September 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


The importance of cars in this series as avatars for the characters themselves is one of my favorite things about Breaking Bad. They act as images of the owner's interior state, as omens of their presence, as a nod to the prominence of the horse in classic westerns, and maybe a little bit as a statement on the alienating scale of suburban life.
posted by invitapriore at 1:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


the car trope through the entire thing is a study in and of itself

As are insects, theft, prostration, breakfast, child victims, mirror images, false identities, uncles, wardrobe colors, poison and fire, amongst others.

I'm still trying to divine the collective purpose of having what is now three intense, uncomfortably long scenes of neck attacks.

This show was crazy! And I have loved it.
posted by heatvision at 1:30 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not to mention, when Walt calls from the gas station pretending to be a NYT reporter to get the Schwartz's address, the shot is quite stark -- he's under a gas sign: $3.89 a gallon.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:32 PM on September 30, 2013


Yikes. That basement thing that Vince pitched after the pilot. Shudder.

That came as a shock certainly just to the horrible lengths it goes to, but at the same time ... He's said before that his original pitch for Jane's death was that Walt literally causes her overdose by injecting her with some more heroin while she sleeps. I vaguely recall that he also responded to several times to jokes of, "Just what kind of twisted person are you?" with some sheepish, "Oh, man, you don't even know." and then usually some horrifying anecdote, usually the Jane one.

Man, that Vince. Seems so sweet, and affable, in interviews and such but his actual brain is terrifying.
posted by sparkletone at 1:42 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


He makes me so proud to be a Southerner.
posted by heatvision at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


> At the Cinespia screening (and wrap party) last night, the cast and creator answered questions (Lavell Crawford was in attendance as well) and Vince Gilligan asserted (with tongue firmly in cheek) that Huell is still waiting in the hotel room.
posted by ancillary at 1:54 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


sparkletone: " He's a scared guy that just had his robogun trigger device confiscated and no one's standing in the firing arc of the gun yet, and now this evil asshole that shot his brother in law is rambling about his car."

I totally agree with your overall point, but I'll just point out that the car stuff happens while Walt is still in the driver's seat with the Nazi leaning in the window and the car keys still in the ignition. The car alarm/robogun keychain isn't confiscated until he gets out of the car and is frisked.
posted by bluecore at 2:20 PM on September 30, 2013


> I have not seen it elsewhere but this blurb about the box set says it will include an alternate ending.

Five bucks says they filmed a Newhart ending when Jane Kaczmarek visited the set earlier this year.
posted by lovecrafty at 2:30 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Walt and Jane Kaczmarek open up an inn in New Hampshire?
posted by box at 2:33 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
— Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:49 PM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


The car alarm/robogun keychain isn't confiscated until he gets out of the car and is frisked.

Ah, you're right. I'd forgotten the sequence of events, though I think most of my general point remains. I doubt they'd shoot him while he's at the wheel, but he's definitely Not Safe at that moment. It's easy to read Jack's conviviality as a show of dominance over someone putting themselves at his mercy, not as a power fantasy thing about Walt (which definitely is a part of the show, of course).
posted by sparkletone at 2:49 PM on September 30, 2013


I was always amused by that, EC--Lydia's supposed to seem so, I dunno, with-it and metropolitan and in control or whatever, so she can be all snobby as fuck the first time we see her ordering tea, but her order is ghastly. That always tickled me a bit. Went with her actually flipping out and being weak in her own way in private thing. "That stevia crap" indeed.

From Laura Frasier's interview with Vulture:

I do think that’s vile behavior. Her other actions are pretty bad, but that drink is inexcusable. You don’t put milk in chamomile tea — that’s disgusting behavior! That’s not right. It’s grim.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "
When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
— Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
"

Yes! I kept meaning to go back to that, thanks for the reminder. I think we should change "Chekhov's gun" to "Gilligan's gun". Breaking Bad never made you regret paying attention.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:57 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Talking of Shakespeare, you know he's supposed to have died on his 52nd birthday, right?
posted by iotic at 3:05 PM on September 30, 2013


We should remember that Chekhov didn't write stories and plays with many rifles on the mantlepiece. He was weirder than that. Sometimes a pair of boys see an adulterous couple in a stairwell and never tell anyone what they saw.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2013


A minor nitpick on the postmortem, but much of the commentary here and beyond has suggested that Walt's final confession to Skyler ("I did it for me") was his first or only moment of self-awareness. Whereas for me, one of the most important pivot points in the whole show is when Walt sees the hospital shrink after his "fugue state" disappearance in Season 2. And says this:
My wife is seven months pregnant with a baby we didn't intend. My fifteen-year-old son has cerebral palsy. I am an extremely overqualified high school chemistry teacher. When I can work, I make $43,700 per year. I have watched all of my colleagues and friends surpass me in every way imaginable. And within eighteen months, I will be dead. And you ask why I ran?
The brilliant part of the scene is that it's framed as if Walt's simply telling the psychiatrist what he needs to hear to discharge him, just spinning another lie. But what he actually does is tell the deepest truth about what he's become. It might be the longest statement of real truth Walt delivers in the whole series.

This, to me, was always absolutely central to Walt's character. Despite his many protestations that he was doing it all for his family, he detested the life had with them. He loved them, I think, but loathed himself in their midst. This was the show's central ambiguity, its core friction: a man who was way better at being bad than being good, trying somehow to reconcile that fact for the sake of the family he did still want to take care of. He wanted it both ways, didn't get all of either one. Ruined one for the sake of the other, in fact. He never saw himself as wholly in the wrong, but he also wasn't willing to deny his own self-fulfillment to do what was right. The rest he blamed on circumstance -- until he saw his own end clearly, and discovered too late how much he'd lost forever.

Probably would've been sort of literarily more satisfying if there was no way back from that abyss -- if the show had ended with "Ozymandias," basically. But it would've been metaphorical overkill. Walt did irrevocable damage to most of what he cherished, but he wasn't beyond any shred of redemption. It was satisfying in its own way to put his strongest skills to use, at least once, in service of the family he'd long promised to protect.
posted by gompa at 3:28 PM on September 30, 2013 [31 favorites]


I'm woefully late to the thread and apologies if anyone voiced this, but I loved the idea of Jesse killing Todd. That was the one thing that made me consider Jesse's lunatic tearing down the road a positive act and a potentially 'happy' ending for Jesse--because for once, he held someone responsible other than himself and made that person pay up and pay directly. It made me think maybe he could have a life free of self-hatred some day. He did a lot of bad things, but not all the bad things he thought he did, and I thought it suggested that he had developed a feeling that perhaps he had a right to self-determination rather than perpetual self-loathing and victimhood.

But then, I really loved Jesse.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


He loved them, I think, but loathed himself in their midst.

Absolutely. I was WISHING we would get a cold open last night from when Skyler told Walt she was pregnant with Holly. Or something around that time. As much as I liked what we did see, I liked Breaking Bad's "cold" opens better.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:42 PM on September 30, 2013


as i think back on it, it feels like they gave us no less than 3 endings: first, the justice prevails ending, where hank and gomie arrest walt; second, the ending where walt dies a solitary death in the woods of new hampshire; and third, the team walt ending, where he is able to achieve a certain level of redemption and claim a sort of victory, to use vince g.'s word.

recall the long pause after hank cuffs walt - he calls marie... dramatically it allows time for the peckerwoods to arrive on the scene. but it also gives the audience a very nearly full stop - almost to say "here's the ending that many of you want. it's all played out and filmed, and we'll let you savor it for a moment." of course, it is fleeting, but it still happens, including all the elements - hank mirandizing walt, calling marie, marie telling skylar. it's all there. the series could have ended right there.

similarly, we see everything there is to see from the solitary death ending - the tragic explosion of walt's family, the vacuum cleaner escape, walt's descent in to lonely desperation to the point where he'd rather surrender. that's how that whole ending plays out. a call to the dea, state troopers storm the bar, walt in cuffs. end of series.

and then, of course, there's "felina", with walt/heisenberg returning just like the villain in a horror movie who WILL NOT DIE, getting his redemption, being the superhero bad ass that he really never was throughout the course of the series. the stevia? the laser pointers? the car keys? it WAS too pat. but i think that's just it - they were offering it not as THE ending but rather as AN ending.

vince is on record as saying he thought "ozymandias" was the best episode of the series. i take that to mean that that's how he wanted it to end, but there were other voices that convinced him to offer these other options.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 3:45 PM on September 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Walt had been as smart as he had on his last day, many times before--at the end of Season 4, most notably, with the death of Gus. It's when he feels death is so near that he seems to perform best. I fail to see why this is so controversial, or why saying this was not in keeping with the show garnered so many favorites here. On the other hand, I did see it as an easier sendoff for the fans, after a couple of the darkest and most emotionally draining shows ever broadcast on American television, maybe the darkest.
posted by raysmj at 3:53 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Vince Gilligan wasn't sure who Walt was praying to in the opener.
posted by planetesimal at 4:13 PM on September 30, 2013


Not to mention, when Walt calls from the gas station pretending to be a NYT reporter to get the Schwartz's address, the shot is quite stark -- he's under a gas sign: $3.89 a gallon.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:32 PM on September 30 [+] [!]


What does that mean?
posted by Bwithh at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


A few stay observations about the ending after a rewatch:

When Walt sends Jesse off, it's with the very slightest of nods, almost as if he doesn't want to do it. The same way he nodded in agreement to Jesse's capture and torture. This cements for me the idea that he told Jesse about Jane's death as a way to relieve his own conscience, rather than a way to torture Jesse. Selfish to the core.

The new scar under Jesse's right eye looks like a tear.

Couldn't help but notice that Jesse aimed the gun at Walt as soon as he picked it up. I wonder, if Walt hadn't started in with "do it, this is what you want," whether Jesse wouldn't have shot him then.

I think it's neat that the final shot echoes the final shot of Crawl Space, right down to the smile. Before this final run, that (and Caballo sin Nombre) was my favorite episode, and certainly the best TV cliffhanger I've ever seen.
posted by heatvision at 4:23 PM on September 30, 2013


Gasoline tends to be a bit pricier in the interior states.
posted by planetesimal at 4:24 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My only real gripe with this episode is that the series has always maintained a pretty rigorous psychological distance from the characters, but here we see a scene that is basically playing out in Jesse's head. Even the flashbacks earlier in the series have a sort of objective air to them, not being prompted by any particular character's mental state, so that scene felt really distracting.
posted by invitapriore at 4:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you learned nothing else from Walt's amazingly successful robo-machine-gun, consider this—Walt blew his real shot at fame when he didn't cobble together a pile of junk and crush the competition at Robot Wars.

Just picture it. Walt's a fairly witty, handsome, scientist attention whore guy who likes the spotlight, who has an intelligent and charismatic air, and who above all loves to make things explode on cue in creative and colorful ways. Point a smartphone videocamera at him and he would've gone viral on YouTube in about five minutes.

You could've been somebody, Walt! The Nobel Prize-winners of the world are many, but the Bills Nye the Science Guys or the Mythbusters are few!
posted by nicebookrack at 4:35 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gasoline tends to be a bit pricier in the interior states.

I wish I could get gas that cheap. <--- exterior state resident.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:36 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


nicebookrack: "You could've been somebody, Walt! The Nobel Prize-winners of the world are many, but the Bills Nye the Science Guys or the Mythbusters are few!"

...I'm not sure it would have ended that differently.
posted by KChasm at 4:48 PM on September 30, 2013


Breaking Bad "In Memoriam" Reel.
posted by ColdChef at 4:58 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think the finale required a bit of suspension of disbelief.
1 - Walt's remote control automated M60 kills all of the anonymous Aryans straight off, but totally misses Jesse and Todd, so that Jesse can give Todd the horrific death we've all been clamoring for. We get to see Jack on the other end of the bargaining for his life pistol, because he was only wounded. We get to see Walt reject his pleas with a shot to the head. Walt is fatally wounded by his own machine gun, thus committing suicide. Everyone is shot exactly the way they need to be shot for the story to come to a happy ending. That's some fancy remote controlled automated shooting.
2 - The one place in ABQ Walt would be most likely to turn up is Skyler's apartment. But Walt is able to sneak in and out of there without being seen, because there are only two cops watching the place, and they've got their car pointing in the opposite direction.
posted by Daddy-O at 5:25 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Talking of Shakespeare, you know he's supposed to have died on his 52nd birthday, right?

Probably. Probably died on his 52nd birthday. We think. Maybe. The problem is that we don't actually know his true birth date.

The only thing anyone knows for sure is that his baptism was recorded in his parish church on April 26th, 1564. There are some sources that say it was traditional to baptize Elizabethan babies three days after birth, but I can't find anything substantive right now.

Long story short: The convention of putting his birth date on April 23rd gives us a nice whole number for his age at death, and coincides with Saint George's Day, so you get to celebrate two figures at the same time.

Shakespeare Nerd Man....awaaayyyyyy!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:31 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


3 - Oh, and how did Walt get the ricin into the stevia packet without it appearing obviously tampered with?
posted by Daddy-O at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2013


4. Why did the neonazis frisk Walt but not bother searching his car even though they know Walt has used explosives before?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:36 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And why did Klinger decide stay in Korea after trying like crazy to get sent home for years?
posted by entropicamericana at 5:37 PM on September 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


3 - Oh, and how did Walt get the ricin into the stevia packet without it appearing obviously tampered with?

If I was Walt I would have gone to the shop earlier in the day, or the day before, and grabbed some packets and doctor the packet at home. It would be really easy to pass it off under those circumstances, even if it was a little sloppy.

I say this as the kid who doctored licenses to make fake IDs for everyone. Allegedly.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:42 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have no idea exactly how Walt replaced the contents if the stevia packet unnoticed. But I can tell you all from experience that my husband snuck my engagement ring into the plastic-wrapped Evil Dead Necronomicon release without my notice. And he's not a scientist. And I have opened over a thousand DVDs before.
posted by heatvision at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


If I was Walt I would have gone to the shop earlier in the day, or the day before, and grabbed some packets and doctor the packet at home.

That's how I pictured it too. They show him in the background sitting at another table when Todd arrives, and she only has one Stevia packet at her (usual?) table. I assume he got there first, planted the poison packet and removed all the others.
posted by Gary at 6:20 PM on September 30, 2013


Klinger finally got the meds he needed, rediscovered his innate patriotism, and spent the rest of the war working hard to make up for his past shortcomings. After the cease fire he became a trusted aide to a key member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and provided much of the legwork needed to reveal the shenanigans of several communist sympathizers.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:22 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


at her (usual?) table

Yes, Walt mentions to her it's the same place they used to meet every week.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:23 PM on September 30, 2013


I'm really blown away by those who wanted the finale to be a scold of how bad a man Walt was. The show is called "Breaking Bad", not "Just Say No". The original pitch was "Mr. Chips becomes Scarface".

I can't comprehend how someone who is concerned if the writers are on "Team Walt" ever watched this show to begin with. If you want a black and white, moralistic (especially conventionally moralistic) show, don't watch ones that center on an anti-hero.
posted by spaltavian at 6:50 PM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm really blown away by those who wanted the finale to be a scold of how bad a man Walt was.

Wasn't the entire series a scold on how bad Walter is? My girlfriend asked how I can watch a show that glories drugs. I told her it does no such thing. No one gets anything good out of the drugs or the money. No one.

Side note: I was hoping Jesse would finally call him Walt.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:53 PM on September 30, 2013


3 - Oh, and how did Walt get the ricin into the stevia packet without it appearing obviously tampered with?

From my own experience I can say that the art of placing drugs in perfectly normal-looking sweetener packets is a known known. I don't know how they do it, but it's commonplace. You used to be able to buy cocaine that way at bars in my college town, an extra $20 with your drink order got you a tiny little baggie in an honest-to-god sealed sugar packet delivered with your beverage.
posted by carsonb at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wasn't the entire series a scold on how bad Walter is?

And how brave he was. And how cowardly he was. How far he will go for his family, and how selfish he was. How brilliant, how myopic. How petty, how generous.

Walt being good or evil is just about the most boring aspect of the show. The show is tragedy, in the original Greek sense. Larger than life, fascinating and critically flawed. Hubris! Brilliance! Risk! Reward! Choices. That is what makes Breaking Bad a good story. Not did we get a satisfying approval of our own preconceived morals.

My girlfriend asked how I can watch a show that glories drugs. I told her it does no such thing.

It glorifies it and completed de-glamorizes it. Good art can be more than one thing.
posted by spaltavian at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was hoping Jesse would finally call him Walt.

Already happened.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


1 - Walt's remote control automated M60 kills all of the anonymous Aryans straight off

Well it was damn lucky, but that's sort of normal for Walt and for narrative in general. Anyway if a couple of bad guys had been in some other building say, or been missed by the gun, you could easily have had the same outcome in the end after a brief uninteresting gunfight that they didn't have time to show.

2 - The one place in ABQ Walt would be most likely to turn up is Skyler's apartment. But Walt is able to sneak in and out of there without being seen

So what? He also made an 8-mile walk in the snow despite having been all sick with cancer for a few months and thus presumably not being in great shape, then drove across the country to New Mexico without dying of exposure or getting caught. It's entirely possible and we can imagine that it might have been difficult without the details being at all important.

3 - Oh, and how did Walt get the ricin into the stevia packet without it appearing obviously tampered with?

Cut the bottom of the packet open along the seam with a scalpel. Empty the packet. Carefully insert the poisonous stuff. Seal it with a very small amout of some kind of glue or epoxy I guess? If you screw it up, just try again. Probably took hours.

4. Why did the neonazis frisk Walt but not bother searching his car even though they know Walt has used explosives before?

Because they're not too bright and didn't suspect he was there to kill them all along with himself. I did briefly wonder why he didn't use a bomb instead. Would've had to be a large one, so he'd have to modify the suspension on the car so as to not give it away that there was a lot of weight in the trunk, but that's easy compared to building the robo-gun. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. And maybe he was holding on to some slim hope that he'd survive another day.
posted by sfenders at 7:06 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wasn't the entire series a scold on how bad Walter is?

The whole show was about a villain named Walt--not an anti-hero--and showing how even villains are complex and multi-faceted and not simply evil. By the time we got to the fourth season there was no way to see Walt as anything but a bad guy--his victory in handing over the money to his family has a Godfather-esque quality to it--he destroyed them in the process of setting them up for financial safety, and left them with circumstances no one would choose even after the delivery of the irrevocable trust.

What the series wasn't about was scolding Walt for being a villain, or celebrating him. A lot of viewers are justly frustrated that he died with a smile on his face, but no one can view the final outcome as worthwhile or good in any way at all; it's just not as shitty as it could be.
posted by fatbird at 7:08 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the Wire as much as anyone, but it had its own unbelievable characters and plot twists: hired enforcer Brother Mouzone, McNulty's fake serial killer (as mentioned above), The Greek and his sidekick Spiros... it's fiction and it's wonderful, so we go along with it.
posted by letitrain at 7:11 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And why did Klinger decide stay in Korea after trying like crazy to get sent home for years?

He married a Korean woman and stayed to help her find her family in the refugee camps.

....I have a weird habit of watching the finales of shows I haven't watched the rest of. I remember that one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:13 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brother Mouzone felt like he plucked from an entirely different TV show and inserted to please fans who watched the show for very different reasons than I did.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the time we got to the fourth season there was no way to see Walt as anything but a bad guy

It makes no sense to me that people interested in making absolute declarative statements like this would be interested in the show to begin with.
posted by spaltavian at 7:20 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It makes no sense to me that people interested in making absolute declarative statements like this would be interested in the show to begin with.

Okay, I think I see what you mean. I expressed myself badly. I don't think Walt is simply a bad guy, or nothing more than a bad guy. I mean that by the fourth season, the scales of good and evil for Walt have tipped decisively towards evil. He's a fascinating and complex character the whole time, but he was long past the point of escaping the consequences of what he'd done or having the karmic ledger tote up anything but a big negative. It was simply not possible to redeem Walt in any external sense. He owned too damage, no matter what he accomplished.
posted by fatbird at 7:29 PM on September 30, 2013


Okay, that makes sense. To paraphrase someone else, Walt passed an event horizon with Jane. A lot of what he does is self-defense, or against someone else in "the game", but that was probably the first time Walt did something that Heisenberg would do, but pre-Cancer Walt would never do. Which, to me, that is why Walt tells Jesse the truth about Jane out in the desert. I view it as the only thing Walt regrets. Fring, Crazy-8 and Tuco were all fair game, but even though Jane was a serious threat, and Walt was passive, he knows he could have found another way.
posted by spaltavian at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2013


Finally got a chance to watch the finale. I think there was a little too much of the Hand of The Writer in evidence here than we've gotten accustomed to with this series, but I cannot fault that overly. I am very much satisfied with what they've given us.

That said, I was also very much satisfied with the end of the Sopranos (which I think was equally skillfull if perhaps too writerly), and gasp horror, even the end of Battlestar Galactica (which was clumsy but not unexpected (except, I must say, the crude modern-day tag at the very end, which soured the experience a bit)).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2013


Just finished listening to the insider podcast 5x16, and I love the moment where Vince Gilligan asks the room, "Who the hell is Walt praying to in the cold open? God? The Devil? Who the hell would this kind of a sick man pray to?" ... and it struck me.

I remembered the "showrunner-as-God pulling the strings in their world" idea posited by this brilliant AV club review of Out On A Limb / Hand To God from Arrested Development. (Seriously, it's a must read!)

So here, what a meta moment for this boxed-in fictional world where Walt lives in, considering all he has gone through, for him to appeal to a higher power to just get him home, and give him a chance to right at least some of the wrongs he's done. It is almost as if he marvels at the idea of the story of his life, whoever wrote it, and he's praying for some intervention.

... and lo and behold, Vince Gilligan and the writer's room respond. "Alright, you sick bastard, here you go, have these keys, and go do whatever sick and brilliantly twisted thing you want to do."

Goddamnit I love this show so much and I just realized it's over and I can't wait for whatever it is that has Vince's name on it next.
posted by mysticreferee at 7:47 PM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


Walt had been as smart as he had on his last day, many times before--at the end of Season 4, most notably, with the death of Gus. It's when he feels death is so near that he seems to perform best. I fail to see why this is so controversial, or why saying this was not in keeping with the show garnered so many favorites here.

He did manage, with Tio Salamanca's help, to set up a situation where Gus was drawn to visit Salamanca and then Salamanca blew him to hell. That was great, but it's a long way from:

Set up my kid's trust fund
Reconcile with Skyler and get her out of legal trouble
Poison Lydia
Kill every single Nazi without hurting Jesse
Die with a smile in the meth lab

All in one day. Breaking Bad has not worked like that before. Going back to your example: how many times had he tried to kill Gus or have Gus killed before he finally got it right? There were at least two previous attempts that I remember, and I haven't rewatched that season. Walt misses chances, complications happen, things get delayed all the time. And then, we end with Walt's Perfect Day, where every single thing goes exactly according to plan. It's just too neat, too tidy, and I found it really had to buy that suddenly, when he's all on his own, everything just falls into place. It's not like it ruined the series for me, but it was a lesser episode than it could have been.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm wondering whether the final overhead shot was a deliberate nod to Taxi Driver. I've never been sure whether the ending of that movie was meant to be taken as reality, or our anti-hero's dying fantasy of a happy ending. I'm starting to like the latter interpretation more and more for this episode.
posted by Crane Shot at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering whether the final overhead shot was a deliberate nod to Taxi Driver. I've never been sure whether the ending of that movie was meant to be taken as reality, or our anti-hero's dying fantasy of a happy ending. I'm starting to like the latter interpretation more and more for this episode.
posted by Crane Shot at 8:08 PM on September 30 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]



Yeah, I'm starting to believe that Walt actually died freezing to death in a snowbound car back in New Hampshire - it's just that Vince Giligan doesn't know it yet. Maybe someone write him to tell him that the watch is the first clue.
posted by Bwithh at 8:18 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


All in one day.

Preceded by several months with nothing else to do but plot it all.

Doesn't seem that far-fetched to me.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


A really fascinating viewer response on BrBa and abusive relationships: Breaking Bad ended my relationship and I couldn't be more grateful
posted by nicebookrack at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Walt's been just as impressive and resourceful on previous occasions. It's not like his plans didn't work out most of the time. He pulled off one of the biggest methylamine heists in history without anybody even realizing there had been a heist. I don't think the ending was a stretch based on what we've already seen. Unless you think it's just implausible White would still have enough fight left in him by this point to pull it off, which might be a valid point.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Omar was a superhero, or a super-antihero or something--he needed a nemesis. And, for me anyway, Mouzone seemed less a super villain and more a dude who took on a quasi-NOI thing as a convenient disguise. Plus I also enjoy Harper's Magazine. YMMV, natch.
posted by box at 8:43 PM on September 30, 2013


I love this show so much and I just realized it's over and I can't wait for whatever it is that has Vince's name on it next.

'Breaking Bad's' Vince Gilligan Nabs CBS Drama Series Order
posted by Room 641-A at 8:50 PM on September 30, 2013


It ran counter to what we've seen before, and left the impression that Walt could have been the undisputed meth king of the world if he had only been as smart all the time as he was on that day.

But that's the difference! He could get the money to his family, but he had to give up credit for it. He could reconcile (somewhat) with Skylar and see his daughter again, but he had to finally be honest with her. He could get revenge on the Nazis, but only if he gave up the rest of his money.

He did manage a small victory, but only once he let go of his pride and stopped lying.
posted by heathkit at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed the series and the finale. The show always seemed like a very good graphic novel to me with a comic book feel to it, and there's nothing wrong with that. Great that they just didn't milk it for a longer run. My favourite show at the moment is Boardwalk Empire, so I'm not experiencing any good television withdrawal.
posted by juiceCake at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The show always seemed like a very good graphic novel to me with a comic book feel to it, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Agreed. The visual style, the framing and composition and visual pauses, are very like a good graphic novel. I thought that was one of the show's greatest strengths, along with the sound design and acting (of course).
posted by ifjuly at 9:10 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm really blown away by those who wanted the finale to be a scold of how bad a man Walt was.

That's quite a simplistic reduction of the nuanced, thoughtful criticisms of the finale from folks like Alan Sepinwall and Linda Holmes, both of whom are obvious fans of the show's moral complexity.
posted by mediareport at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why do you think I was reacting to them specifically?
posted by spaltavian at 9:34 PM on September 30, 2013


Well, you should be.

But to be clear, your formulation of the critical response as critics wanting "a satisfying approval of our own preconceived morals" is *exactly* what some critics are saying Gilligan gave the audience with that wish-fulfillment fantasy of an ending. Me, I'll stand by my claim above that it's an enjoyable and satisfying conclusion that gave a bunch of us the kind of closure we want when a show ends, but I can also recognize there are reasonable and sharp criticisms about the way Gilligan handled the finale, which seems to have, well, given up on some of the more complex and interesting moral questions - not to mention basic realism - that a lot of folks hoped to see through to the end.

Ok, we didn't get that. We got something more closed, more immediately emotionally satisfying, less bleak than Walt standing alone, dying of cancer still, amid the wreckage of dead bodies that was once his family (an ending Gilligan et al seriously considered, let's not forget). I'm not complaining; Jesse killing Todd was a great revenge moment. But I can *totally* understand the perspective of folks who think the ending was at least a bit of a cop-out.

No need to scorn them.
posted by mediareport at 9:43 PM on September 30, 2013


Well, you should be.

I don't think we can have a productive conversation.
posted by spaltavian at 9:44 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm asking you to respond directly to Sepinwall and Holmes instead of to a vague caricature of "those who wanted the finale to be a scold of how bad a man Walt was."

That's a reasonable request.
posted by mediareport at 9:45 PM on September 30, 2013


[Maybe let's leave this little back-and-forth alone, at this point?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:48 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oops, sorry, spaltavian. My apologies if that "Well you should be" came off too sharply. I should have written something like this:

You're right, I don't know that you were reacting to Sepinwall and Holmes specifically. But your formulation of the critical response as critics wanting "a satisfying approval of our own preconceived morals" is *exactly* what they (and some other critics) are saying Gilligan gave the audience with that wish-fulfillment fantasy of an ending...

[time for bed]
posted by mediareport at 10:01 PM on September 30, 2013


"It makes no sense to me that people interested in making absolute declarative statements like this would be interested in the show to begin with."

But Walt was a "bad guy". I think that where there might be a miscommunication (I hope) is that there's "bad guy" as the usual film/TV two-dimensional mustache-twirling trope, and then there's "bad guy" as in real people who do very bad things, repeatedly, but, being real people, are psychologically complex and are often or most-of-the-time people pretty much like everyone else.

The show absolutely has a morality, I'd retort to you that if you were watching it as a study of a descent into violence without an authorial judgment of it, you were watching the show wrong. The premise, the name of the show is explicitly moralistic. It wasn't intended to celebrate Walt's transformation or to dispassionately, neutrally present it; it was intended to interrogate the audience's identification with Walt, to eventually horrify us and implicate us. Over and over in the second half of the series they did this.

Walt is despicable and by the end, most of the audience were aware of this.

That's not to say that Walt was alien, a convenient psychological "other" that we could comfortably displace all of our own worst impulses onto and reassure ourselves that we'd never do anything like him. Quite the opposite, really. I'm a frequent voice here on MeFi that argues that the average person has the capacity to do horrific things, that murderers are not as unlike ourselves as we like to believe. But that's not the same thing as arguing that they, and we, don't make choices that rightly are horrifying and deserve condemnation.

I've been thinking about what the show has to say about morality, personality, psychology, and socialization. I'm not sure it really has a coherent worldview, but I do think that it pretty clearly gives us several different models of murderously violent personalities: Tuco, Gus, Todd, Jack, and Walt. Not to mention Mike.

Gus and Mike are very similar, they are pragmatic killers, but they don't see the act of killing as insignificant. I'd guess that both matter-of-factly condemned themselves for it. They knew it was "wrong", they choose to do it anyway because they've made practical decisions that require it (in their judgment). Both of them could do something else in their lives and never kill anyone again, probably never do a violent act again. Maybe they'd prefer it. It's troubling to consider who they are and how they got there in a way that faces up to the fact that they seem like decent people who do terrible things and don't lie to themselves about it. So why do they do them? Narrative fiction sort of wants to interrogate this personality, but rarely manages it. They're usually very likable and meet a tragic end that satisfies the audience's sense of justice while also fully engaging their sympathy.

Jack is clearly someone who's been socialized into violence. He's pragmatic about violence, but not in a dispassionate way. For Gus, it's an unpleasant but sometimes necessary means to an end, not to be done lightly and without regard to the consequences. For Jack, violence is the exchange of power through terror, it's how his world operates. It's not as deliberate as it is for Gus, it's instinctual, it's the pure desire to dominate. And in this sense it's also a kind of defense, but it's not a fearful defense, it's just how you live.

Todd is what we colloquially call a psychopath. His killing and violence is very pragmatic, as with Gus and Mike, but it's also feathery light, it's completely devoid of any moral component. It's the first thing he's inclined to do and it's not because it's necessarily the best thing to do. Todd will always use the maximum amount of force simply because he doesn't really have a sense of proportion. He's detached, often impulsive. Todd may have been made the way he is from early childhood, or maybe he was born that way. But Todd is genuinely "other", he's truly different. There are people like him. Less than we probably popularly imagine, but there are.

Walt and Tuco are both, I think, of the same quality though of very different expressions. Walt and Tuco are, in their respective ways, explosively and unexpectedly violent and murderous and this is always an eruption of rage. More than with anyone else, the violence is an act of rage and, underneath the rage, of fear. Walt and Tuco are both insecure in their position and power in a way that Gus and Jack are not. So Walt and Tuco keep striking out, terrorizing the people around them, because for them this is sort of primal scream that demands that the world notice them. I think that maybe people will read Tuco differently than I do, think that he's just in love with violence, but in a way that's what I think is true of the Walt and Tuco I'm describing. They're both in love with violence in the specific sense that they feel they have agency then as they do almost no other time.

And then there is Jesse. And Skyler, too, even though she isn't responsible for any violence but, like Carmela Soprano, is implicated in it more than she wants to admit to herself. Or Saul. His henchmen.

We can ask how these people are like and unlike ourselves, how do those similarities and differences explain that they kill people, or direct other people to kill people, or directly and knowingly profit from the killing of other people. There's no single answer for this, there's different kinds of people and different kinds of life stories. But killing people is wrong, we know that it's wrong. We make exceptions, but we pretty much don't make exceptions for the kinds of killing we're discussing here. These people do or are indirectly involved with horrifying acts that seem in some sense impossible to us. But they really aren't impossible; a lot of crime fiction is a way of us to feel around the boundaries of what we understand to be normal. Sometimes to reaffirm where those boundaries are and how we might remain inside them, and sometimes as fantasy violations of them which arguably do both harm and good.

To realistically and intelligently and courageously ask in narrative fiction how it is that actual people can do horrible things doesn't require that we refuse to condemn those actions or the people who make those choices. It just requires that we make the effort to understand them. The understanding is what is for many people morally complex, what for many people is mistaken for an endorsement and then, for some others, conversely, means that any serious examination must necessarily take a neutral stance. But that's just not true. In fact, it shouldn't be true because the exercise has much less meaning and resonance when it lacks the moral dimension, just it has less meaning and resonance when it lacks the psychological realism.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:25 PM on September 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


Gus threatened to kill Walt's newborn child. Exactly how pragmatic was that? You can argue that it was all bluster, that he was never going to act on that. But that was pretty explosive anger. He didn't seem to bothered by killing Victor either, killed him like it was nothing.
posted by raysmj at 11:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was a little disappointed to find out the skinheads have better money management skills than anyone else on the show. They apparently didn't spend any of those tens of millions of dollars buying better cars, clothes, or lairs.
posted by ColdChef
But someone splurged on a massage chair!
posted by blueberry at 11:09 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


But someone splurged on a massage chair!

Ew.
posted by iotic at 11:35 PM on September 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Gus threatened to kill Walt's newborn child. Exactly how pragmatic was that?

Very pragmatic, insofar as he couldn't kill Walt and keep Jesse's co-operation, so he threatened Walt in the most extravagant terms to keep Walt away. That it didn't work--indeed, had the opposite effect--was a miscalculation, but it was still a reasonable strategy for Gus to pursue, to continue to stockpile and sell blue meth.

One of the most interesting condemnations of Walt is Mike's as he received his go-bag from Walt, before being shot: He blamed Walt for fucking up a good arrangement. All he had to do was cook meth for Gus and launder the millions he'd collect, even splitting half with Jesse. But Walt's flaws, be it hubris or vanity or paranoia, wouldn't let him rest easy with the arrangement.

Which lays an excellent moral trap for the viewer: that's the "good" path that Walt didn't take. We instinctively recognize the circumstantial justice of Mike's accusation. That's the path of relative virtue, which would mean continued production of the blue meth that sustained Jesse's hooker and the Peekaboo parents and the shovel guys, and fed far greater human misery than any cataclysm Walt could trigger. I agree very much with whoever said above that one of the main thrusts of the writing was to implicate the viewer in Walt's villainy.
posted by fatbird at 11:45 PM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


This has been one of my all-time favorite MeFi threads, and that's just the comments (I'm going to savor all the FPP links later). I belong to the camp which generally appreciated the finale as sort of giving us what we wanted, even if it did require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. It was the first time Walt's plans didn't go awry, which was completely out of character/the norm, but hey... I'm still debating whether that was the ending I wanted or found most plausible, but for now, it will do.

Another thing which hasn't been brought up is Jesse's fingerprints on the chains which strangled Todd. The cops would surely pay special attention to that, since Todd was the only one at the site murdered by something other than an M60 round. But whatever happens to Jesse, it's still better than enslavement and ultimate execution by the Nazis. Also, people are wondering about Jesse's future regarding employment and living in poverty (if he's not somehow implicated in the whole business). After what he's been through, a minimum wage job and struggling financially would still be gravy compared to the hell he's experienced.
posted by Devils Slide at 2:34 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That scene with Walter stalking around inside Gretchen and Elliot's, where he's looking at their tchotchkes, but they can't see him because they're in the other room.

The home invasion. The classical music. The wood floors.

Remind anyone else of the famous "home visit" scene in Clockwork Orange?
posted by evil otto at 2:43 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Correction: Jack was killed with a pistol (with Walt's fingerprints on it) but that would be pretty cut-and-dried. Actually, I'm wrong! Jesse picked up the pistol after Walt, so he'd likely be blamed for Jack's murder as well. As much as I want Jesse to get away, things look pretty bleak for him in every respect.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:01 AM on October 1, 2013


Set up my kid's trust fund - easy enough to do. He knew Gretchen and Elliot would fall for it.
Reconcile with Skyler and get her out of legal trouble Neither of these happened. Skyler let him talk for five minutes, and she let him see one of their children. That's not reconciliation, and we don't get any information on whether Walt's plan to get Skyler out of legal trouble works.
Poison Lydia - easy to do, was set up two seasons ago.
Kill every single Nazi without hurting Jesse He didn't kill Todd, Jesse did.
Die with a smile in the meth lab
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:39 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plenty of Walt's homicides and his violence were pragmatic (the prison murders, Brock's poisoning, etc.) as terrible as they were. Only Mike's murder was done impulsively, or in rage. And Gus' whole raison d'être was revenge, which is a kind of rage. What Gus had that Walt did not was leadership skills and a quiet sense of command and purpose, and a certain charm, which is likely a big reason Walt's lack of success in the non-drug world previously, despite his enviable credentials. (Also, Walt f'd it all up because Gus was going to have Jesse killed.)
posted by raysmj at 5:15 AM on October 1, 2013


Kill every single Nazi without hurting Jesse

How is non-obvious to people who aren't me that when Walt went to kill the Nazis, he totally intended to also kill Jesse, AKA "the great traitor getting rich with Nazis off Walt's blue meth recipe?"

Before he saw Jesse, Walt talked about Jesse in terms of hatred/contempt to both the Nazis and Jesse's friends Badger & Skinny Pete. He had no intention of saving Jesse because at that point he had no idea that Jesse needed to be saved. Only once Walt saw Jesse did he realize that Jesse was the Nazis' prisoner-victim, i.e. Jesse hadn't (further) betrayed Walt, and so Walt changed his mind about killing Jesse at the last second. Jesse not dying in the shootout was a hasty lucky thing, thanks to Walt taking the bullet for him.

This is actually where Walt's original plan does fall apart, because if NaziPartner!Jesse weren't living on the Nazi compound, how exactly was Walt planning to kill him? "Hey, Nazis, since the gang's all here, why don't you invite Pinkman over for a pizza, for old time's sake? We can have a meth cookoff!"
posted by nicebookrack at 5:45 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Reconcile with Skyler and get her out of legal trouble: Neither of these happened. Skyler let him talk for five minutes, and she let him see one of their children. That's not reconciliation, and we don't get any information on whether Walt's plan to get Skyler out of legal trouble works.

Yeah. I've been thinking about this a lot. Many of us (myself included) have tended to read Walt's word on what Skyler can do with the gravesite coordinates as being basically golden: She has desirable information now,so it should be snap for her to exchange that for leniency. She'll still be emotionally broken, but she'll walk.

But the thing is, in that scenario, she's not just trading numbers for freedom. She's trading Hank's body for freedom -- the body of a person she cared about, and more importantly, the body of her sister's beloved spouse. I can't image that Marie would view any kind of wheeling and dealing re: this with anything other than rage and revulsion. So if Skyler uses the golden ticket, she risks losing the one adult in the world who still gives a damn about her.

In coming back, Walt didn't fix things for Skyler. He didn't pull her out of the hole she's in. He just walked up to the edge and tossed her a dung-smeared garden spade with which to dig herself out. It's true that his words during the goodbye scene demonstrated some insight, but his deeds were still 100% pure Walt.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:02 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is actually where Walt's original plan does fall apart, because if NaziPartner!Jesse weren't living on the Nazi compound, how exactly was Walt planning to kill him?

I think Walt was hoping for a bonus in catching Jesse, but would have been content to destory the lab. It would have undermined what Walt thought Jesse was doing. While Jesse is as good a cook now, I'm not sure he would have the knowledge to actually build a lab from scratch. Could be wrong about that.
posted by spaltavian at 6:26 AM on October 1, 2013


Don't recall it linked above so here's Andy Greenwald's review at Grantland. It's mixed, if not a little muddled, agreeing with some of the criticisms above - "All the swaggering outlaw clichés turned into Swiss cheese by agonizing, bullet-ridden episodes like 'Ozymandias' were made whole again last night" - but countering them as well - "Breaking Bad has been obsessed with neatness and order from the beginning. It unfolded itself with such elegance and purpose that it's difficult to imagine it leaving the scene any other way."

Not sure about that last bit; the show is as obsessed with chaos as neatness, which Greenwald seems to acknowledge when he calls it "at once, flammable and controlled." And I'm having trouble on first read squaring "it's difficult to imagine it leaving the scene any other way" with "it seemed both odd and at odds with everything that came before to see Walt redeemed like this." Those seem close to directly contradictory. But anyway, I did like Greenwald's 2nd-to-last paragraph a lot; it gets right to the heart of why so many of us loved this damn show so much:

And regardless of what this unprecedented, five-year experiment ultimately proved, its final result in no way invalidated the staggering originality of its approach, the bubbly cocktail of giddiness and dread that was its most addictive byproduct. Breaking Bad was like nothing I've ever experienced before and it's something I doubt we'll experience again. Aligning all the elements that made it great, from actors, to writers, to that impossibly blue New Mexico sky, is unlikely to be repeated. Another series capturing the country's imagination and its attention in such a way — transforming Sunday-night appointment viewing into a nationally calibrated heart attack — seems even more improbable. This sort of consistency and focus — in TV shows as in chicken kingpins — is rare, awe-inspiring, and, if we're being honest, more than a little terrifying.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't match many of the comments above, but a couple of drive-by thoughts:

- Walt having to get a pittance [by his standards] to Flynn anonymously must have just been eating him alive when he made that happen. If he made that happen. Every interaction with his son through the series was a desperate attempt to gain status and approval – I'm thinking mainly of the cars, and his jealousy of Hank – and knowing that Flynn will believe he's benefiting from Grey Matter largesse is a bigger demonstration of some small growth than the "I did it for me" speech, in my opinion.

- Walt loves Jesse because Jesse is the Son He Can Fix, while Flynn has always been, ultimately, afflicted with something he can't change. Walt's turning on Jesse is entirely based on Jesse seeming to have outgrown him (turning on somebody is a demonstration that you're not dependent on them, ultimately), so Jesse showing up at the eleventh hour once again needing Walt to save him flips the hate switch right back to love.
posted by Shepherd at 6:47 AM on October 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


How is non-obvious to people who aren't me that when Walt went to kill the Nazis, he totally intended to also kill Jesse, AKA "the great traitor getting rich with Nazis off Walt's blue meth recipe?"

No, I agree with that, but I still think that reinforces my point. His last day is so damn perfect that even when he needs to switch gears by killing all the Nazis and saving Jesse, he's able to pull off a last minute improvisation that works perfectly.

Someone else pointed to the methylamine train heist as another brilliantly executed Walter White plan. Sure it was--if you ignore Opie Hitler killing a completely innocent kid. I would consider that a less than optimal result; your mileage may vary.

I've said about all I can say on this point, so I should probably drop it, but I don't think anyone can point to a single example in Breaking Bad of some clever heist that wasn't either preceded by other failed attempts or that didn't have some horrible thing go wrong, like the death of Drew Sharp. It's been non-stop improvisation, botched executions, multiplied complications from the very first episode. Until the last episode, when nothing failed, everything worked the first time, and Walt even pulls off a last minute adjustment to save Jesse. Good thing none of the Nazis were in another room, or dropped to the floor when the first shot range out. Good thing Jesse was in position to strangle Todd, who decided to look out the window instead of grabbing a gun and hunkering down. Good thing Jack lost his grip on his gun and was defenseless when Walt came for him. And it was really swell that Walt got the perfect death wound he wanted, so he never had to face justice but still had time for a final interaction with Jesse and a loving caress of the meth lab.

Nothing--nothing--ever goes this well for Walt. That's part of what has made the show so interesting--all his scrambling for alternatives when the last thing he tried didn't work out like he wanted. I can see maybe liking it that everything finally came together for him just right for once (even though I didn't buy it) but I don't understand how you can read this as anything other than a massive exception to the way things usually go. In any other season, just poisoning Lydia would have taken three tries before he finally gave up and whacked her over the head with a shovel. Even the fact that the vial of ricin still existed is testimony to Walt's history of Plan A going awry.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:56 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesse [to Hank and Gomez]: "You two guys are just guys. Mr. White, he's the Devil. He is smarter than you, he's luckier than you. Whatever you think is supposed to happen, the exact reverse opposite of that is going to happen."
— "Rabid Dog," September 1, 2013
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sure it was--if you ignore Opie Hitler killing a completely innocent kid. I would consider that a less than optimal result; your mileage may vary.

Those were criminal schemes. Their success or failure has to be judged on its own terms. Did they get the methylamine? Did they get away scot-free? That's a successful criminal operation, even if the moral implications are repugnant. Walt was always good at achieving specific operational goals (even if it required improvising a bit when things didn't go exactly to plan); what he was not good at was caring if his plans hurt anyone else. No matter how much of a role luck may have played (and luck always plays a bigger role than people think, I suspect), Walt successfully took down and out-maneuvered hardened, experienced criminal bosses time and time again. Very few of his plans that I can recall failed outright. They came with moral costs, baggage and incidental effects that ramped up the tension as the show went on, but Walt pulled off a lot of similar plans over the course of the series.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:25 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Walt f'd it all up
Mike: We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring, we had a lab, we had everything we needed and it all ran like clockwork! You could have shut your mouth, cooked, and made as much money as you ever needed. It was perfect! But no! You just had to blow it up! You, and your pride and your ego! You just had to be the man! If you’d known your place, we’d all be fine right now!
posted by mikelieman at 7:33 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


But Mike was wrong. Gus never wanted to keep Walt. He wanted to kill him and his family.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gus wouldn't have had any issues if Walt wasn't all "Gale's not working out, I need Jesse..."
posted by mikelieman at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2013


Gus wouldn't have had any issues if Walt wasn't all "Gale's not working out, I need Jesse..."

But we know that's not true. Gus hired Gale with the intention of having Gale cook. He reluctantly brought Walt on to improve the purity, but as soon as Gus got up to speed, he was going to get rid of Walt.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:42 AM on October 1, 2013


As a counter-argument for "the finale is Walt's dying dream:" he didn't know about Jesse's situation.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:43 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instances in which "X is Y's dream!" isn't faux-clever silliness are pretty few and far between.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2013


Why was he brought on reluctantly? Because he brought a HIGH Jesse to a scheduled meet with Gus, then forgot to mention Hank was all DEA, and that he had cancer.... Then after promising that Jesse wouldn't ever be seen by Gus, insisting that he be brought in..

I still think that if Walt had acted in good faith, then yeah, they could have kept that lab running for years.
posted by mikelieman at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly. It wasn't only Jesse's death that Walt feared, but his own. Whether he was right to fear death from Gus rather than cancer is a subject you can debate for an eternity. But Gus had a reason to kill Jesse (the avenging of the death of Combo, and ... selling meth on the side? Did Gus know about that too? I need to go back and watch those episodes again!).
posted by raysmj at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2013


Why was he brought on reluctantly? Because he brought a HIGH Jesse to a scheduled meet with Gus, then forgot to mention Hank was all DEA, and that he had cancer...

Again, we know this is not true. (per the cold open of Box Cutter)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:52 AM on October 1, 2013


And I gotta keep in mind that Gus wasn't just motivated by practical concerns. Terror was a big part of his persona, so just killing people because... I gotta keep that in mind.
posted by mikelieman at 7:52 AM on October 1, 2013


I feel like people are defining "Walt wins" by sort of conflating what narratively constitutes a "good ending" for Walt and what a reasonable person would actually consider a "good ending", which is made more confusing because Walt-the-character self-mythologizes to the point where what is actually a bad ending for Walt is seen by Walt as a good ending.

If somebody said "what are your plans for after work" and I said "I plan to bleed out on the floor of a meth lab, hated by my family, despised by my community, broke and clinging only to the desperate hope that other people that also hate me might give my son -- who hates me, by the way -- about 1% of a fortune I lost, anonymously, some day, and get all the credit for it when they do", you would probably not say "hey, solid plan!" You would harshly question my life decisions.

So by any sane standard, Walt in fact had a super bad ending.

I'm satisfied with the muddiness of Walt getting an ending that Walt may have found satisfying, but that when you step back and look at it is actually a really, really shitty way to go. He wanted to die a Provider For His Family, but not anonymously; he wanted to be lionized as the Protector of Home and Hearth. Total failure there; any "win" is self-satisfaction that he's providing, but there's no objective status of Provider that he's getting except the secret knowledge of Elliot and Gretchen, whose esteem he well knows he'll never have. He concurrently wanted to be lionized as the Meth Genius of the Southwest, which he might have had a bit more success at. In his self-mythology, he's dying a legend; in actual fact, he's just a dead chemist that got a lot of people killed and let some peckerwoods steal all his cash.

Believing that Walt got the "good" ending kind of requires that you buy into Walt's self-mythologizing, and confuse narrative-good-ending with actual-good-ending. Those who don't like the "good" ending just want Walt to not get what Walt wants, which is the "narratively good, objectively terrible" ending. They want Walt to die without satisfaction to punish the character for his egomania and myopia.

I can buy the argument that things pulled together a bit too well for Walt, but I'm not sure another extra episode of Walt failing to shoot the Nazis and then succeeding at shooting the Nazis, or failing to poison Lydia and then succeeding to poison Lydia, would have left me in a much different place.

Ultimately, I like the confusion between "Walt's good ending" and "that's not such a good ending at all, really", and the fact that it's confusing enough that people can pick a side of the river to stand on and shout at each other a bit about it.
posted by Shepherd at 7:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [34 favorites]


He reluctantly brought Walt on to improve the purity, but as soon as Gus got up to speed, he was going to get rid of Walt.

I don't think that's true. It was always a backup plan, but Gus showed tremendous flexibility in adapting to the situation as it changed--he always kept his eye on the goal of making fuckloads of money on blue meth. Once Gale had to be fired, Jesse could cook with Walt; once Walt was unreliable, Jesse could cook and Gus was willing to let Walt live to accomplish that.

I think if Walt and Gale had worked happily together, he'd have let the arrangement run for as long as it would.
posted by fatbird at 7:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gus was a businessman.

Gale was cheaper -- and more compliant -- labor. Only a matter of time before Walt was laid off.
posted by notyou at 8:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think if Walt and Gale had worked happily together, he'd have let the arrangement run for as long as it would.

Walt and Gale didn't work happily together, because Walt came to understand that as soon as Gale mastered Walt's formula, Gus was going to kill him. Walt's days were numbered, as long as Gale was around.
posted by ambrosia at 8:22 AM on October 1, 2013


I really don't think there was any indication that Gus planned to dispose of Walt until after Walt GTAed the two drug dealers. Yeah, Gus is a businessman, but he had a certain respect for Walt's ability and I think he was proud for a while of having the best meth cook in the US working for him.
posted by invitapriore at 8:27 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Gus' visit with Gale, when he exhorts Gale to learn the details of Walt's formula because Walt is dying of cancer (though of course it's actually just because Gus intends to kill him), is something that happens after that event, for example.
posted by invitapriore at 8:29 AM on October 1, 2013


Gus' goal was to make fuck tons of money and avenge the death of his onetime partner, and doing the latter required expanding and mastering his regional market. And he was also working for higher-ups at Madrigal, although I don't recall hearing what the arrangement was there.
posted by raysmj at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2013


He reluctantly brought Walt on to improve the purity, but as soon as Gus got up to speed, he was going to get rid of Walt.

I think Gus was watching to see if Walt was like Gus -- dispassionate, all-business. And I think we can all agree that even at his most Heisenberg, Walt was never dispassionate. Once Gus understood that Walt did not have the right stuff, it was over, just a matter of time. In a funny way, I think Gale would have surpassed Walt for Gus, a model employee, except for he got dead.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did Walt ever see if his lottery ticket won?

I bet it was a winning ticket and Skyler finds out.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Every interaction with his son through the series was a desperate attempt to gain status and approval – I'm thinking mainly of the cars, and his jealousy of Hank

The saddest part of this is that all along Flynn clearly loves his dad and thinks he's a great guy. "Uncle Hank is so cool" != "I wish Uncle Hank were my dad." But it's not enough for Walt to have his son's unconditional love; Walt wants his hero worship as well, and for Flynn to have no other gods before him.

Walt loves Jesse because Jesse is the Son He Can Fix, while Flynn has always been, ultimately, afflicted with something he can't change.

This is an excellent and interesting point. I wonder how much of Walt's nasty verbal abuse of Jesse over the seasons was actually Walt lashing out because "normal" Jesse takes for granted and "wastes" abilities that Flynn will never have, and/or Walt venting his aggression at Flynn on Safe Target Jesse. Screaming at your son with cerebral palsy because "you are irreparably imperfect and it REALLY FRUSTRATES ME!" is not something you can do and preserve your self-image of Great Dad, Walt knows.

In some ways, Walt's (lack of?) relationship with his parents, especially his father, is the negative space around which the show and the rest of his life forms.

And poor, poor Jesse. He's the oldest son in two families, and he ends up the scapegoat for Little Bro / unfavorite black sheep in BOTH of them.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:37 AM on October 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Rumours say that Gilligan and Cranston have been told by the execs they can name any price if they'll do a 6th season - we never conclusively saw that Walt was dead.

If I was Cranston, who is 57 and can never hope for a better role, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.
posted by colie at 10:43 AM on October 1, 2013


If I was Cranston, who is 57 and can never hope for a better role, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand

Cranston is currently doing a play in Boston that sold out its entire run before they started previews, I believe. If he wants to do theatre, he's going to be offered the roles of his life.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


we never conclusively saw that Walt was dead.

After all that, do people seriously think Walt survived? I mean, it makes absolutely no organic sense to the plot. And Cranston can't hope for a better role? Not only will he get offered zillions of things, you can bet your boots he's got directing jobs piling up. At his age and stage, it's a natural next move.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Theatre is great, but at 57 maybe he needs to provide some serious cash for his family when he's gone...
posted by colie at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


If I was Cranston, who is 57 and can never hope for a better role, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.

I heard a podcast interview with him- wish I could remember where!- in which he basically said that, when he got into acting, he never wanted anything except to act. He'd be happy to live with roommates his whole life if he could act for a living. And, furthermore, he was excited to take the Walter white role because it was the polar opposite of Hal from Malcolm in the Middle- he said he was really worried about being typecast as a 'goofy lovable dad'.

So, basically, I really don't get the impression that he would want to return to the character of Walt if it didn't serve the story. Certainly not just for money, or because he liked that particular role. I imagine he's eager to try new things.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:54 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


He directed 3 eps of BrBa: Seven Thirty Seven, No Mas, Blood Money.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2013


Dunno if it's online yet, but the New Yorker did a write-up of Cranston and his approach to his career a while back and it was pretty illuminating. He's a very thoughtful guy.
posted by ifjuly at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2013


Theatre is great, but at 57 maybe he needs to provide some serious cash for his family when he's gone...

DEATHING SALESMAN

(but seriously, this line of thought has me thinking about Breaking Bad : Death of a Salesman and it's actually kind of a compelling line of thought – personal failure, self-delusions of grandeur, obsessions over providing for a family that comes to hate you – interesting lines to draw there)
posted by Shepherd at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think Gus was watching to see if Walt was like Gus -- dispassionate, all-business. And I think we can all agree that even at his most Heisenberg, Walt was never dispassionate. Once Gus understood that Walt did not have the right stuff, it was over, just a matter of time. In a funny way, I think Gale would have surpassed Walt for Gus, a model employee, except for he got dead.

Gus was controlled, but almost the antithesis of dispassionate. His major goal and machinations were about revenge for the death of his lover Max. In large part he built up his drug empire so that he'd have entree to the cartel to get his revenge. Gus would've been happy to work with Walt even if he felt contempt for him, but having Walt risk his plans is something for which he'd have no tolerance at all.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


he said he was really worried about being typecast as a 'goofy lovable dad'

As opposed to tighty-whitey guy?
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:02 AM on October 1, 2013


God, I would kill to see Cranston have a go at Willy Loman.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sure, Cranston has loads of options, but look at Gandolfini: this role is going to dominate the rest of his life, since it was bigger, if that's possible than the Sopranos.
posted by colie at 11:04 AM on October 1, 2013


I don't know that Gandolfini is an apt comparison, though. I loved the guy but he was far more of a one trick pony than Cranston who has (obviously) excellent acting chops. Not to mention he already had a main role in a series which ran for more than twice as many episodes as Breaking Bad.
posted by Justinian at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I heard a podcast interview with him- wish I could remember where!- in which he basically said that, when he got into acting, he never wanted anything except to act.

That was probably this episode of the Nerdist podcast.
posted by zixyer at 11:31 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


ifjuly: "Dunno if it's online yet, but the New Yorker did a write-up of Cranston and his approach to his career a while back and it was pretty illuminating. He's a very thoughtful guy."

Actually just after watching the finale at a friend's the other night, I randomly picked up a New Yorker off the coffee table and flipped it open right to that article. It was really good (although, as a non-regular NY reader, they really do meander through a person's life history). I especially liked the bit about how he came up with a way of scoring scripts, turning it into an equation whether he should pass, consider, or jump on potential roles.
posted by mannequito at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2013


I especially liked the bit about how he came up with a way of scoring scripts, turning it into an equation whether he should pass, consider, or jump on potential roles.

I would love to see how the equation for the role of Walter White turned out.
posted by jeather at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2013


yeah, the scoring script thing was what i thought was illuminating.
posted by ifjuly at 11:44 AM on October 1, 2013


and as for BB in relation to his acting legacy, the new yorker article opens with him saying something like it's the role that "will undoubtedly be the first line in my obituary".
posted by ifjuly at 11:45 AM on October 1, 2013


Cranston also wrote and directed a lovely little film called Last Chance, which stars his wife and himself. It's quite good. Although it's a wee drama, it's got a some really cracking scenes in it. They recorded a commentary together, too. It's interesting to me just because through its very existence, it answers the question "if Bryan Cranston wrote a character for himself to play, what would it be?"

(It's also another part of the coincidence chain that led him to Breaking Bad, as he wouldn't have been able to be in The X-Files and therefore become acquainted with Vince Gilligan had he not returned to L.A. to edit this film at the precise time that he did.)

So, you know, check it out if you're addicted to Breaking Bad and find yourself wanting more of everything that was even tangentially involved with it. Especially if you keep looking at the tab title for this page and being peeved that there isn't a number next to it, like me. Also, I just ordered a Badfinger CD and all 9 seasons of The X-Files, because I have no shame. And because this is already the worst television withdrawal I've ever had.
posted by heatvision at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rumours say that Gilligan and Cranston have been told by the execs they can name any price if they'll do a 6th season - we never conclusively saw that Walt was dead.

I really doubt this is true, to be honest. Like maybe someone jokingly said it where their assistant could hear and they eventually repeated to some blogger, but I really doubt it. Not only would this completely ruin what they've done with the series as it stands, I really doubt Gilligan would go for it for pretty much any amount of money.

Like I get that the finale did pretty astonishingly well in the ratings, but that was a one time thing. If you break what came before by doing this, everyone's going to turn on you.

They might be that greedy, but they're not that stupid. The smart thing is offer Gilligan whatever the hell he wants for his next cool idea.
posted by sparkletone at 11:52 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rumours say that Gilligan and Cranston have been told by the execs they can name any price if they'll do a 6th season - we never conclusively saw that Walt was dead.

There's no scenario where this show survives.
posted by Crane Shot at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


There has never been a more perfect ending song to a finale than Baby Blue.

"I think I got what I deserved..."

And I will fight you if you disagree.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:15 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I totally agree ... I was wondering how many songs with the word "blue" they combed before they settled on Crystal Blue Persuasion and Baby Blue? Must have been kinda fun "research".
posted by thinkpiece at 12:17 PM on October 1, 2013


tyllwin: "Walt's barely-disguised contempt for Elliott ("You're going to need a bigger knife.")

BTW, I loved the acting of that line -- Walt's face, posture, and voice all seemed to me to be channeling Mike, just as I saw his polite handling of Saul's car wash ticket a couple of episodes back as channeling Gus. You can actually see in Cranston's delivery exactly where in his career Walt learned how to handle himself in each specific situation.
"

Another thing that I noticed about this bit was that he was also channeling Jack just a little bit. I think the first usage of "[going] that way" or "that other way" as a euphemism for killing someone on the show is when Jack says "[my nephew] would never forgive me if things went another way" after they take his money in the desert. Might be a reach, I don't know.
posted by invitapriore at 12:24 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


After Breaking Bad
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:31 PM on October 1, 2013


I was wondering how many songs with the word "blue" they combed before they settled on Crystal Blue Persuasion and Baby Blue?

Definitely love the choices they made, though if I'd been in on it, I might have tried to make a case for David Bowie's Silly Boy Blue.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2013


AfterBAD, a half-hour sitcom where Jesse, Skyler, Flynn and Marie are employed at a Missouri hospital following a bungling clerical error by the Witness Protection Program, presided over by an octogenarian but still sprightly Jamie Farr. Hijinks ensue.
posted by Shepherd at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


How about W*A*L*T*E*R*J*R*, an ill-fated sitcom where Walter sells the family farm and nearly commits suicide before becoming a police officer in St. Louis, Missouri?
posted by entropicamericana at 12:50 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There has never been a more perfect ending song to a finale than Baby Blue.

I agree it was an excellent choice, but pretty much on the nose, almost like it was written for the scene. Whereas the sudden interjection of those opening keyboard chords of "Don't Stop Believin'" as Carmela comes into that Jersey diner in the final scene of The Sopranos? Unexpected, almost shocking in its banality at first, and ultimately brilliant. Truly perfect. The scene's unimaginable without it.

Lots to love about the Breaking Bad finale, but ain't no one matches David Chase for grand-finale anthem selection.

Come at me, bro.
posted by gompa at 1:04 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cranston is incredibly smart and talented and I'm so glad he got the Walter White gig to show us the full range of his acting (and directing) ability. I wonder if Gilligan was met with resistance by the execs when he announced his decision to cast Cranston in the role. I assume he had to fight for him.

The NYT article sounds fascinating and I'm going to read it now. There was a Guardian article from 3 or 4 years ago about Cranston, where he came cross as very intelligent and eloquent. He's also very Liberal and critical of the GOP's actions during the past few (or several?) years, which isn't necessarily what you expect from a SoCal born and bred (WASP) guy who at one point in his life seriously considered becoming a police officer.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:37 PM on October 1, 2013


Lots to love about the Breaking Bad finale, but ain't no one matches David Chase for grand-finale anthem selection.

Yeah, I think it's fair to say that Chase got there first, and everything else feels like "what the cool kids do now."
posted by thinkpiece at 1:46 PM on October 1, 2013


Bryan Cranston is not hurting for jobs (and won't be for a long time, I predict). He did the Nerdist podcast a while ago, and he talked about how he's been basically working steadily as an actor ever since he decided to BE an actor--which he definitely acknowledges as unusual.
posted by lovecrafty at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2013


I wonder if Gilligan was met with resistance by the execs when he announced his decision to cast Cranston in the role. I assume he had to fight for him.

Gilligan said in an interview (Charlie Rose? can't remember, I've been binging on BB interviews lately) that execs did in fact express disbelief about Cranston, then Gilligan sent them the episode of the X-Files that Gilligan wrote and Cranston starred in, and that changed their minds.
posted by ambrosia at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


And if you've not seen Drive, the Gilligan/Cranston X-Files episode, you really should track it down.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Theatre is great, but at 57 maybe he needs to provide some serious cash for his family when he's gone..."

Cranston has been steadily playing supporting roles in movies while he's been doing Breaking Bad. Last year I watched three films in two days in which he appeared (Drive, Lincoln Lawyer, something else).

A lot of television actors who do well starring in their own series can't break into film, or even find that the smaller film roles they formerly got they no longer do, because their tv success puts them into a no man's land that confounds film casting.

Cranston's already proven that both are not problems for him. What is most likely, however, is that Cranston won't ever be a leading man in a major film but will develop (as he already is) a solid career as a noted Hollywood character actor. With bigger roles than he's gotten, but still supporting. And that's good. That's actually really good, in fact, because the shelf-life for leading actors is shorter than it is for good supporting and character actors. Cranston can make a good living working primarily in film if he wants, and probably do so for another fifteen years.

More tricky would be another starring television role. If I were him, I'd be very, very selective about accepting another starring role. There'd be very high expectations that he'd have a lot of trouble meeting because, of course, it's not only up to him. He needs good writing, good showrunning, just generally good production to rise to the level that won him these drama Emmys.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lots to love about the Breaking Bad finale, but ain't no one matches David Chase for grand-finale anthem selection.

Not the same kind of choice as Don't Stop Believin', but the opening bars of this still make me tear up in a way that's practically Pavlovian.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cranston is currently doing a play in Boston that sold out its entire run before they started previews, I believe.

I saw him in the American Repertory Theater production of "All the Way" this weekend where he starred as LBJ and he was astounding.

I was concerned that I'd yell, "Yo, Mr. White!!" during curtain call but Walter White was nowhere to be seen on that stage.

Cranston is the real deal.
posted by kinetic at 2:57 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had secretly hoped that the end would be a choreographed dance routine to this song.
posted by mannequito at 3:00 PM on October 1, 2013


because their tv success puts them into a no man's land that confounds film casting.

I fear for Aaron Paul's agent.
posted by wensink at 3:09 PM on October 1, 2013


Stephen Colbert might be the source of the rumors of more Breaking Bad.
posted by sparkletone at 3:26 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gliding Over All: The Cinematography of Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2
posted by tonycpsu at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I fear for Aaron Paul in his selecting a terrible videogame movie as his first post-BrBa outing. He is an outstanding actor who is still far more in danger than Cranston of disappearing into obscurity or being pigeonholed into a "yo, bitch" persona forever.

Aaron, if you really feel the need for slightly-trashy-action-movie speed to shake off those angst-chains a bit, the Marvel and DC franchises are right over here. Not that I'm biased.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I want Aaron Paul for Ant-Man, myself.
posted by dogheart at 3:46 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aaron Paul should take a year off, enjoy that cool wife, get some distance.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:53 PM on October 1, 2013


First and last shot of every major character (warning, gifs)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:24 PM on October 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


I only skimmed, so maybe this has been covered, but:

Did anyone notice that Walt's signal to Badger and Skinny Pete to turn on their lasers was a Picard "engage" gesture?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


First and last shot of every major character

Never in my life would I have thought that Badger and Skinny Pete were the lucky ones, but watching that brought that home.
posted by ambrosia at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh my, Mister Moofoo, I love little bits like that! [moofootoob]
posted by maggieb at 5:51 PM on October 1, 2013


God, I would kill to see Cranston have a go at Willy Loman.

I want to see him eventually take a crack at King Lear. There's this speech right towards the end of Act I where Lear really starts to lose it and curses one of his daughters for her perceived ingratitude:
Hear, nature, hear; dear goddess, hear!
Suspend thy purpose, if thou didst intend
To make this creature fruitful!
Into her womb convey sterility.
Dry up in her the organs of increase,
And from her derogate body never spring
A babe to honour her! If she must teem,
Create her child of spleen, that it may live
And be a thwart disnatured torment to her.
Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth;
With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks;
Turn all her mother's pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt; that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child!
...I imagine that being done in full-on Heisenberg mode, and I get chills.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh my god, I was just talking to the ex the other day about wanting Cranston to do Lear. I would sell a kidney to see that.
posted by dogheart at 6:14 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


King Lear first, but then Cranston must do Titus Andronicus. CHEF HAT OF DEATH.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:17 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


nicebookrack: "I fear for Aaron Paul in his selecting a terrible videogame movie as his first post-BrBa outing."

To be honest, it's probably a good business decision. Despite my personal feelings on their quality, racing movies consistently make money, especially overseas where action travels better than drama or comedy. Fast and Furious 6 made over $500 million at the overseas box office and domestically it made over $230 million, making the whole franchise Universal’s highest grossing franchise in the studio’s 101-year history.

It's possible Aaron's Need For Speed movie could do this well, especially with the built-in name recognition to a portion of gamers, and if it's a hit, it would give him leverage to take on more personal projects in the vein of Clooney's mantra "One for them, one for me". I'm guessing this is the plan his agents pitched him, anyway.
posted by bluecore at 6:27 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone's probably mentioned it already, but might as well again - if you haven't seen it yet, check out Smashed, great little indie movie from last year about a young alcoholic husband & wife (Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
posted by mannequito at 6:37 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


If this means that the next Need For Speed game will have Azteks and Grand Wagoneers and Volvos and 4wd Tercel wagons, I am totally on board.
posted by box at 6:42 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the cheat code that unlocks Walt's Caddy.
posted by planetesimal at 6:55 PM on October 1, 2013


Hell, let's just have Cranston do a season at the Blackfriars and call it the best thing ever.
posted by dogheart at 6:56 PM on October 1, 2013


Fast and Furious 6 made over $500 million at the overseas box office and domestically it made over $230 million, making the whole franchise Universal’s highest grossing franchise in the studio’s 101-year history.

That same (extremely depressing) record has since been smashed by Despicable Me 2.

Yeah. So, anyway, Aaron Paul is also apparently starring alongside Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, et al in Ridley Scott's Exodus. I think he'll do just fine, y'all.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:01 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you haven't seen it yet, check out Smashed, great little indie movie from last year about a young alcoholic husband & wife (Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead)

Seconding Smashed; it's a quick, sharp character study of alcoholism and recovery (clocking in at 80 minutes). It's smartly directed and Paul and Winstead are great in it. Technically not Aaron Paul's "first post-BrBa outing" since it came out last October, but it's one folks should know about as they talk about his future career.

(Also, I'll mention in a 2nd BB thread that the first two seasons of Showtime's Shameless might scratch some of the Breaking Bad itch. Great acting, smart writing, a good mix of intense drama and humor, more women in pivotal roles and an oddball assortment of low-life characters trying to get by. It's not as consistent, maybe, but well worth watching.)
posted by mediareport at 9:35 PM on October 1, 2013


This is the best thread.

I've already worked out my take (*cough*fanfic*cough*) on how Jesse escapes and lives. At first, I was disappointed that he ended up without a single cent -- nothing he could use to restart his life. But then I realized he wouldn't want it. Not any of it. Not even the car he used to escape. I see him driving it ecstatically all night, until it runs out of gas and he abandons it. He will leave it all, he will walk through the desert, seeking rejuvenation and growth. I see him hitchhiking North -- instinctively, the direction away from Mexico. He'll be picked up by a few kind souls and a few losers, but he'll be alright. Then he'll be picked by some nice kids who he will like and feel comfortable with. And then he realizes why he feels comfortable around them, when they offer to share with him just a little bit of their meth. I'm not sure if it's blue or not, in fact I kind of figure Jesse would never even look at it. The world will start crushing in on him, he will start hyperventilating, and he'll be shaking. They'll pull over, and he'll stumble out. They will drive off, as he starts to vomit. And he'll continue vomiting, for a full twenty minutes. He never again touches meth or any other drug; he eschews even coffee. Jesse is a man with an iron will within him, he just needed the jolt of conviction.

This will go on, with him living off of the strangers willing to give him aid out of kindness or boredom. He doesn't have a wallet--no ID, no social security card, nothing, as he slowly, aimlessly, travels.

Then, one day, he'll be hitchhiking and a vehicle will stop. It'll be an RV. Not the crappy kind he knows, but not a nice one either. His breath catches a little. The driver is an older man with a half-stubble beard and a grizzled face. He peers at Jesse from inside, as Jesse stands outside. The man says to him, "Kid. What are you doing out here? You don't even have a backpack." Jesse will shrug. "You got any cash to your name at all, kid?" Jesse will shake his head and say no. This will be a lie; he'll have about $70 hidden in his shoe that was given to him by a previous ride, but he's not letting on. The man invites Jesse in. Jesse hesitates, but he has few options. He gets in.

The man is a retiree. His wife died about three years ago, and he has been going around the country, aimlessly, in his RV, ever since. It is filled with cheap tchotchkes, the kind no one ever believes anyone actually buys. The RV is creaky and the man's got a bad back, but they get on well enough. He offers to let Jesse stay with him past the next town, and Jesse agrees. They will end up travelling together, like this, in the RV, for several months.

At the start, the man feels wistful pity for Jesse. It's so obvious to anyone who looks that Jesse is suffering so greatly, but he never asks why. He wants to help Jesse. Not in any superficial sense, but in a deep, soulful way: the way that, sometimes, only the old and lived can help the young and wounded. It takes Jesse a long time to see this. He has had the trust beaten from him. But it comes. This is the father figure that Jesse has always needed.

They will part ways eventually. There's a time for these things. He leaves Jesse in a small city surrounded by a heavy, living woods. They hug in the unashamed way of two adults who truly love each other. They will stay in touch, for many years.

Jesse then will spend a few years living on the outskirts of society. He still has no ID, so work is hard to come by. He is fine with this. He gets enough to get by. He works with his hands. At the end of each day, he comes to a shitty apartment, with his muscles aching from honest work. He will breathe in and out, slowly: this will be his peace.

Sooner or later, he'll meet a waitress. She'll be funny and smart, but more than anything, she'll be kind. He'll see in her potentialities he had previously written off as too good to be true for someone like him. He asks her out, and it goes well. He asks her out again, and then again. But then, after the fourth date, he'll sit in his car outside her home, feeling tightness in his chest. His hands will start to shake. In his mind, he'll see her standing on a porch. He'll hear a blast. He'll feel the gag tight across his mouth. He'll close his eyes, and for a moment the panic gets him. He drives away fast. He never sees the waitress again.

He travels more. He lives. He settles in again, in another small city, not in fact that far from the first. He works more. He has his peace. Then he meets another woman. She'll be a baker, spending her days working with her hands to create goods that are fulfilling for others. She is, again, funny and smart, but more than anything kind. He falls in love. And this time, he knows to do it right.

He doesn't have much money, but he consults a lawyer. He gets as much of his outstanding legal business done as he needs to get his legal identity back. This, ultimately, won't be that hard: he wasn't connected with the meth operation. It was an unbelievable bit of good luck -- the kind of luck he previously thought only the people around him got. The process will be a logistical nightmare, it will cost him a good chunk of money that comes dearly, but he sees no jail. The past is put to rest.

He marries the woman, the baker. He seeks out a better job -- one on the books. It's still hard work, but it is good work. It is work with rhythm, with purpose, with simple goodness. With time, there is a child. A baby boy. The boy will named after his maternal grandfather, who was a good man Jesse unfortunately never had the chance to meet. The boy will grow up in a household of love. After a while, Jesse writes his parents. It's a simple note, with a picture of their grandchild attached. They write back.

On some long nights, Jesse will find himself thinking. His thoughts will wander back to his past. He'll feel the tightness in his chest, his arms will shake under the weight of their ghost shackles. But then he'll close his eyes, he'll breathe deeply, and his peace will come again.

That's how it goes for Jesse. Yep.
posted by meese at 10:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


I went over this thread for a pub quiz team name; FAMOUS MONSTER'S "Walter White won, Heisenberg lost" won out over Mr. Bad Example's "Chekhov's M60." Also: we took first place!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:33 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how a great show can inspire a sense of community like this, of comradery.
posted by JHarris at 11:37 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


While it would have been an awful, awful choice for Breaking Bad, the lyrics for Mr Blue Sky would have been deeply, deeply ironic.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:00 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my guilty secrets is that sometimes I cast (in my imagination) classic plays with the actors from TV series and so forth that I enjoy, sometimes in character, sometimes not (for example, I used to put the characters from the radio soap The Archers into a lot of things. Not the actors, the characters). It keeps me happy in an eccentric way.

I say this, because I'd like to present for consideration my next imaginary playhouse production: Hamlet, featuring the cast of Breaking Bad. It's only something that struck me a couple of minutes ago, but so far I've got Aaron Paul as Hamlet; Brian Cranston as Claudius; Anna Gunn as Gertrude; Dean Norris as Polonius; Krysten Ritter as Ophelia and Badger and Skinny Pete as Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern.* R.J. Mitte as Laertes, I guess, maybe Jesse Plemons as Horatio. Definitely Bob Odenkirk as the Chief Gravedigger.

The trick is to get the actors as in-character as possible. It's not perfect (there appears to be nothing for Betsy Brandt, for example, which is terrible), and often, as you can see, it mixes up established character relationships, but it's a diversion. And it's a testament to the series that I think I can do it - it's rare that you have the vividness and diversity of characterisation that allows the exercise.

I can feel people around me slowly edging away...

Oh, and Jonathan Banks as Hamlet's father.

I'm having difficulty with the players, though.

Giancarlo Esposito as Fortinbras?


*It's sad, but I thought it was probably better to mention these two by character name.
posted by Grangousier at 2:02 AM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


meese: I have an AO3 invite if you need one. :D
posted by nicebookrack at 2:37 AM on October 2, 2013


FAMOUS MONSTER'S "Walter White won, Heisenberg lost" won out over Mr. Bad Example's "Chekhov's M60."

FAMOUS MONSTER, stay out of my territory.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:53 AM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The poisoned Stevia packet would not have been difficult to pull off. Wikipedia says that a dose of ricin the size of a few grains of salt is enough to kill a person, so you wouldn't even have to bother emptying out the Stevia first. The way those packets sit vertically, the powder almost always collects in the bottom half, so a small incision (a millimeter or two -- just enough to get the tip of a pointed X-acto knife into the interior) near the top of the packet would go unnoticed as there's no powder there to fall out. You wouldn't even have to worry about sealing it.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:17 AM on October 2, 2013


Count me as another backer of the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge theory. Too many scenes in the finale goes all too perfectly to Walter's White plan, and it's completely against the grain of the "actions have consequences" vibe of the two immediately previous episodes. Felina is what Walter White would have liked to happen. But it's not what happened. It's what he fantasized about while he died of exposure in a car that wouldn't start.

It's not likely that I'l watch the series again; it messed too much with me. But I like that it ends the way I remember it.
posted by kandinski at 5:33 AM on October 2, 2013


Things do go a bit too well and too quickly but if you think about it, all of Walt's ploys did work, too. Realistically, you could say that when he brought fulminated mercury to Tuco, a lot of things could go wrong, the explosion could have been to strong or not strong enough, a henchman could have died and they wouldn't let it slide just like that, or a henchman might have shot at him before Tuco stopped him.

The same can be said about the killing of Gus, train robbery, killing of Tuco, and especially killing of Mike, which made no sense at all. Mike was supposed to be way too good to just sit there in a car and let the amateur Walt walk up to it and shoot.

In the last episode, there are, essentially, two things that are tough to pull off: Lydia and Jack and his people. So you can compare it to poisoning Brock and getting Gus which I think (I could be wrong), happened in 1 or 2 days, and there was one unsuccessful attempt with Gus' car.

So you might say things got a bit compressed in the last episode, and you can very well argue that it's easier to get Lydia than Brock and that Gus is much smarter and more cautious than Jack.

Elliott and Gretchen are of course not going to say no to Walt who is on the run, desperate and dangerous, as far as they know. It's just hard to imaging them pushing back - go ahead and kill us but we will not take the drug money and give it to your son, is that what they'd say?!

Slipping into the house doesn't seem that hard after all other Walt's exploits during the run of the series. The house is guarded by one car, last time I checked a house has, at least, 4 walls that can be approached from 4 different sides.

Finally, getting all Jack's men but Todd in one go IS a stretch. If you think about it, he didn't really have to. He wanted to get Jack and as many of his men as he could, if some were left alive they'd be disoriented and expecting an attack from outside and he could presumably hunted them like ducks around the compound. That's where narrative logic takes over and you can say that after Jack is dead, it makes no sense to have it dragging on with the rest of his crew.

Realistically, he could have set up an automated call to the police that would be made 15 minutes after the shootout, then he'd try to get as many of them as he could and let the police clean up the leftovers.

Then again, he could also have brought the always-handy fulminated mercury, but that doesn't work narratively -- although it is simpler than ensuring the M60 is positioned right and most of Jack crew is within the arc.

The whole thing is less improbable than some other events of the series.
posted by rainy at 8:07 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think to dismiss this final fantastical series of coincidences is to ignore the other fantastical series of coincidences through out the whole show.

How likely is it that he would have met Jane's father in a bar hours before he would kill her? Or that he would have spotted Jessee jumping out a window of a meth lab? How many Mr. Wizard/McGuivered contraptions and explosions could have failed? Or any of the other coincidences we went along with previous to Felina?

It has always been about extraordinary circumstances and their effects on nominally moral people. It has been about the walk from normal high school teacher to drug king pin. It didn't happen through anything other than circumstance, hubris, and a weak moral compass.

I have a question, that I didn't see answered above. Didn't Walt leave Grey Matter because of some feelings he had for Gretchen? He wanted to get out of a situation where he might have an affair, and concurrently had his first child born with special needs. He and Skyler likely decided to get him out of an unstable start-up situation, and into a steady paycheck with good benefits since she would need to quit her job to take care of Walt Jr. Thats why they settled for the smaller house, only ever intended to have one kid, laid low and didn't take risks.

Its more or less the opposite of getting himself into circumstances where everything could go wrong, he put himself into circumstances where things would be stable and predictable. And it would seem that could only last for so long.
posted by fontophilic at 8:20 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, Walt met Skyler after leaving Gretchen, iirc. The thing about Gretchen was handled just fine in the show, the point is not whether he was right or she was, the point is that they had a different perspective on something that happened and it doesn't matter what it was.

Only a great show can have the confidence to see that you don't always have to meticulously provide the details. The show was never about why Walt left, or whether he was right to leave, it's about his bitterness on account of that event.
posted by rainy at 8:40 AM on October 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Walt and Gretchen dated before she married Elliott and before he met Skyler. Walt left Gretchen one 4th of July weekend when he went with her to her family's home. For unsaid reasons (possible: panic in the face of Gretchen's family wealth and their perceived snobbiness?) Walt fled.

This comes out partially in the confrontation between Walt and Gretchen when she finds out he lied to Skyler about taking money from GM for his treatment. She says something about how she found him packing without a word on the holiday weekend, and how bewildered and hurt she was by his behavior. He gets angry and calls her 'spoiled little rich girl adding to her millions'.
posted by lovecrafty at 8:44 AM on October 2, 2013


The thing about that meeting is that Walt's words are genuine but at the same time he has a good reason to overplay a little. Gretchen has a valid question he can't answer. He can't logically explain why he did that or why he can't answer, so his way out is to manipulate Gretchen by using his own existing bitterness to shock her into leaving. He overplays for dramatic effect. You can compare this conversation to him explaining his fugue state to the psychiatrist.
posted by rainy at 9:02 AM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Breaking Bad is The Great Gatsby if Jay Gatsby were reeeeally bitter at Daisy?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:48 AM on October 2, 2013


The whole thing is less improbable than some other events of the series.

Yeah, if plausibility was a thing I expected out of the show, I probably would have checked out at Tortuga. I think that despite the heavy subject matter, the show has always had a Looney Tunes sort of silliness. There's the bathtub, the ATM, Gus's face, Mike shooting the guy through the wall, and later, luring the other guy to the door with the pig toy. There's a giant magnet and a plane crash and flying pizza. The scene when Walt, devastated over having been turned away by Skyler, wakes up under the coffee table surrounded by tissues and popcorn is hilarious. They even wring comedy out of Walt & Jesse's horrible abusive relationship in the beginning, and have them physically fight repeatedly, as if they were Tom and Jerry or something. Anyway, it seems to me that a lot of the things people have problems with are just manifestations of this dark comic sensibility. Is it likely that in real life, a man like the Walt of episode 1 would end up taking out a room full of Nazis with a remote-control assault weapon? No, that's crazy. But it's fun.

How likely is it that he would have met Jane's father in a bar hours before he would kill her?

Walt himself noted how unlikely that event was in Fly, which I shall now quote since it was some of my favorite dialogue in the whole series.

Jesse: You went to a bar?
Walter: I sit down and this man, this stranger, he engages me in conversation. He's a complete stranger. But he turns out to be Jane's father, Donald Margolis.
Jesse: What are you talking about?
Walter: Of course I didn't know it at the time. I mean, he's just some guy in a bar. I just didn't put it together until after the crash when he was all over the news.
Jesse: Jane's dad?
Walter: Think of the odds. Once I tried to calculate them, but they're astronomical. I mean, think of the odds of me going in and sitting down that night, in that bar, next to that man.
Jesse: What'd you talk about?
Walter: Water on Mars. Family.
Jesse: What about family?
Walter: I told him that I had a daughter and he told me he had one, too. And he said, "Never give up on family." And I didn't. I took his advice. My God, the universe is random, it's chaos. It's subatomic particles and endless pings, collision – that's what science teaches us. What does this say? What is it telling us that the very night that this man's daughter dies, it's me who is having a drink with him? I mean, how could that be random?
[Walter stumbles, starting to succumb to the sleeping pills]
Jesse: Hey, sit down.
Walter: No, no, it's, uh... Oh, that was the moment. That night. I should never have left home. Never gone to your house. Maybe things would have... Oh, I was...I was at home watching TV. Some nature program about elephants...and Skyler and Holly were in another room. I can hear them on the baby monitor. She was singing a lullaby. Oh, if I had just lived right up to that moment...and not one second more. That would have been perfect.
posted by heatvision at 9:56 AM on October 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


heatvision: "Yeah, if plausibility was a thing I expected out of the show, I probably would have checked out at Tortuga. I think that despite the heavy subject matter, the show has always had a Looney Tunes sort of silliness."

Yeah, I think Breaking Bad as a piece of fiction can sustain an implausible universe because it's not about the universe so much as this one guy who is affected by it. The Wire, for example, has to have a comparatively realistic take on things, since one of the main questions that it probes is "why are things like this?" Breaking Bad's main question is "what is the true shape of this man's character in the face of these events?" The events are unlikely but informative in that regard. And they're mostly consistently unlikely, so the effect isn't jarring in the same way as something like Brother Mouzone.
posted by invitapriore at 10:43 AM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Five customer experience management lessons learned from 'Breaking Bad'
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it likely that in real life, a man like the Walt of episode 1 would end up taking out a room full of Nazis with a remote-control assault weapon?

That would have been an even more accurate pitch than the famous 'Mr Chips turns into Scarface.'
posted by colie at 11:11 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


That final song!

Badfinger = Walter White.

Gretchen and Elliott = the worst facets of the Beatles' cheerful and unstoppable world domination plus freely indulged talent and money.

After Apple signed Badfinger, apparently McCartney wrote their biggest hit in less than 10 minutes and they recorded it identically to his demo, but then Apple Records rejected lots of their subsequent self-penned material for release.

When they wanted to change their name and asked Lennon for an idea, he casually suggested 'The Pricks'. They fell apart in episodes.

Both main Badfinger band members later committed suicide, including the one who wrote and sang 'Baby Blue'.

Sometimes the other shit is just too good, too much, for you. Perfect choice.

.
posted by colie at 1:13 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a long new wrap-up at Grantland.

What concerns me now is the idea that Breaking Bad's immaculate storytelling is somehow repeatable. And, worse, that we might want it to be.
posted by heatvision at 1:30 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here's the best Walt died in New Hampshire explanations I've seen. I'm not conceived Vince thought it up though
posted by Bwithh at 2:38 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I'm not convinced" not " I 'm not conceived" . Darn autocorrect
posted by Bwithh at 2:59 PM on October 2, 2013


The problem with that is, as mentioned upthread somewhere, Walt doesn't know about Jesse so he couldn't be imagining saving him.
posted by ifjuly at 3:10 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bwithh, that link has some really great points. The only quibble I have with the idea was aleady pointed out in this thread, that Walt didn't know Jesse was enslaved, so how could he dream it? I suppose it's arguable that that's exactly what he would dream for Jesse. Jesse clearly meant a lot to him, but he was also a real thorn in his side sometimes, for example, in season 3, when he wouldn't stop pilfering meth from the superlab. And I would say it's arguable, based on his treatment of his loved ones throughout the series, that subconsciously, actual enslavement might be an ideal setup in Walt's mind. And as other clever folks have mentioned, the reveal of Jesse's situation allows Walt to magnanimously rescue him, to have the upper hand one more time.

In regards to the choice of Badfinger, while I have some reservations about using real-life misery and suicide to deepen my reading of a fictional work, I'm inclined to agree that it was the best possible choice for the ending, for that reason. From what I've read, these guys tried to do something great, and really, they did. But they didn't foresee the complications and misery that came with it, and that set off a pitiable chain reaction of death. There is a duality in those men's deaths, just as we can see the death of Walt as the death of two men.

(As a lifelong Steely Dan fan I was hoping that Kid Charlemagne would show up somwhere, but I suppose it wouldn't fit in with the rest of the soundtrack.)

There is also the fact that Walt began by keeping his cash in an otherwise empty nursery. That his first delivery to Gus was coincident with the birth of Holly, and we all remember which one he chose to attend to. It makes me wonder just how long Gilligan had this song in mind. Baby blue indeed.
posted by heatvision at 3:31 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just can't imagine Walt dreaming that Jesse's cook would ever surpass his own.
posted by lovecrafty at 3:35 PM on October 2, 2013


But Jesse was his student. The success of the student is the success of the teacher.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2013


The callback to Jesse's woodworking monologue has me remembering another moment that I never figured out - what was the significance of the Jesse/Jane dialogue about Georgia O'Keefe and painting the same door over and over again?
posted by naju at 3:40 PM on October 2, 2013


Warren Ellis has an interesting answer to the question of why all of Walt's machinations came together so smoothly at the end:
He fully commits to being Heisenberg. And that’s why, in this last hour, his schemes finally work. They don’t work because he’s dreaming it. They work, without backfiring (almost), this time, because Walter White isn’t getting in the way of Heisenberg. He is, at last, the Bad Guy, and his final act is as operatic as that of Al Pacino’s Scarface, a film referenced in the series. “So say good night to the bad guy. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you.”

Why does that ricocheted bullet get him right at the very end? Because, faced with Jesse, he throws his old partner to the floor and clear of the fusillade. That’s something Walter White would do, and so Heisenberg gets killed for it. What keeps him alive is being a fictional supervillain. What kills him is being human.
posted by usonian at 3:48 PM on October 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


WTF?*

Meet Walter Blanco: 'Breaking Bad' Gets Spanish-Language Version

--------------
*¿Como Que?
posted by notyou at 4:08 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, man. Time to brush up on the Spanish!
posted by planetesimal at 4:09 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Soooooooo I think Ellis is pretty wrong? I think the distinction between Walter White and Heisenberg is not so cut and dried as to allow it. I think that both Walter Mark I -- the Walter of the first season -- and Heisenberg are facades that the real Walter acts through. Prisms, if you will. Neither is a complete person; Walter Mark I is something close to the sitcom dad of Malcolm in the Middle, and Heisenberg a cartoon supervillain. If Walter Mark I seems weak and ineffectual sometimes, it's because the role he's created for himself lacks the ability to express assertion, lacks charm, lacks swagger. Heisenberg is a more powerful presence, but he can't keep a family together, can't work a real job, can't...really...do much of anything other than be a badass. That sounds cool, but it's really limited in its real world applications. Heisenberg has to pay a man to pretend to be his friend. Heisenberg is a fantastic hammer in a world that requires people to be Swiss Army knives.

I think Walter is about as integrated a personality as he ever could be in the finale. Maybe this is because his literal time in the wilderness has forced him to be more honest with himself. Maybe this is just because he no longer has the time to bullshit himself, or -- maybe more importantly -- to compartmentalize. All the different worlds he has lived in are collapsing into one at the end, and he has no choice but to be all of his splinter selves at once.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:31 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was always Walt.

Except for the guy with the bandage on his nose. That was Heisenberg.
posted by planetesimal at 4:36 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


naju: "The callback to Jesse's woodworking monologue has me remembering another moment that I never figured out - what was the significance of the Jesse/Jane dialogue about Georgia O'Keefe and painting the same door over and over again?"

Did you ever see this? Walter White Walking Into His House On Three Different Birthdays: An Important Comparison
posted by mannequito at 4:39 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walt finally accepts that he always was Heisenberg
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:41 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was all a dream after the last episode of 1st season. I mean, 2nd. Or 3rd. Did I blow your mind or all 3 of your minds?
posted by rainy at 4:57 PM on October 2, 2013


I don't think anyone says Jessie's meth is better than Walt's. Badger says it's as good as ever, doesn't he? Or did I miss something?
posted by rainy at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2013


naju: Jessie thinks the idea was that she kept painting it over and over until she could get it right - just like he (and Walt) approached cooking of Meth, and how Jessie was making the wooden box over and over.

Jane tells him you can do the same thing without obsessively aiming for a single-minded goal.
posted by rainy at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2013


Skinny Pete says "better'n ever" with regards to the blue meth after they talk about how Jesse is still at it, and then promptly apologizes.
posted by invitapriore at 5:11 PM on October 2, 2013


Ahh, for some reason I heard it as 'never better'. I have trouble taking it any other way than a figure of speach. Walt had a far better lab at Gus' place. He's a genius, he can make ricin, McGyver a battery out of nothing, make stuff that looks like meth but explodes like a grenade. It seems like a throwaway joke that people will read too much into.

By the way, when Walt was in the snow-covered car, what I think happened is that he got out of the bar knowing police will come there soon, so he went a far way off before finding a car to jack. The police just drove by the same road on the way to the bar.
posted by rainy at 5:19 PM on October 2, 2013


Todd said that Jesse's last batch was at 96 percent. I don't remember Walt ever getting that high.
posted by painquale at 5:26 PM on October 2, 2013


No, Gale was getting 96% by himself, and he said Walt's is 99% or possibly higher. I assume when Walt was using Gus' lab, it improved further. I also doubt Badger would be able to distinguish between let's say 99% and 99.5%.
posted by rainy at 5:30 PM on October 2, 2013


From wiki, just so we can be accurate here:

Walter White can cook a 99.1% pure meth
Jesse Pinkman can cook a 96.2% pure meth
Gale Boetticher can cook a 96% pure meth
Todd Alquist at first could only cook meth that was 76% pure, but eventually improved to 92%.
Declan's Cook can cook a 68% pure meth
posted by rainy at 5:32 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Todd's 92% was really Jesse's first batch with the Nazis, though, right?
posted by invitapriore at 5:33 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was my recollection, too. I think Todd told Lydia they got to 92% and didn't mention it was Jessie, so that she'd think he (Todd) is awesome with chemistry.
posted by rainy at 5:35 PM on October 2, 2013


Yeah, and later Todd brought Jesse ice cream for hitting 96. I assume Todd cooked with him that time.

I didn't realize Walt hit 99.1%. I assume that's pretty good.
posted by painquale at 5:36 PM on October 2, 2013


Are you kidding you should try it
posted by rainy at 5:36 PM on October 2, 2013


Todd told Lydia that Jesse was responsible for the 92% at that same meeting. He wasn't trying to take credit.

I'm surprised we never saw Walt sample his product.
posted by painquale at 5:38 PM on October 2, 2013


Ok, I forgot that.
posted by rainy at 5:39 PM on October 2, 2013


Skinny Pete says: "Damn, man. We were sure it was you, 'cause that shit is choice, yo! Better'n ever!"
posted by lovecrafty at 5:58 PM on October 2, 2013


Walt had a far better lab at Gus' place.

The lab on Uncle Jack's compound was taken from Declan's guys, which in turn was inherited from the Vamanos Pest mobile lab, which was designed by Walt himself, with assistance from Jesse. That's why he was so happy to see it again in his final moments. I doubt there would be any compromises in its functionality that would have rendered meth any worse than the superlab. When Walt designed it, he was in full-on ego stoking mode and wouldn't have been able to live with himself otherwise.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:35 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


From wiki, just so we can be accurate here:

Walter White can cook a 99.1% pure meth
Jesse Pinkman can cook a 96.2% pure meth
Gale Boetticher can cook a 96% pure meth


Hmmm, maybe I should knock up a breaking bad Top Trumps.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Warren Ellis has an interesting answer to the question of why all of Walt's machinations came together so smoothly at the end:

I would agree with what Ellis said, with the stipulation that Walt really was smarter than almost everyone else around him. But he was always his own worst enemy, which kept him from achieving socially acceptable fame. Only by fully embracing Heisenberg, when he didn't have much left too lose, did he really rise to leaves of greatness.

Heisenberg has always been a bit of super villain, able to make things happen through a combination of bold arrogance that often showed itself via luck. Only Jesse and Gale ever came close to understanding just how powerful Heisenberg was.

Heisenberg is a more powerful presence, but he can't keep a family together, can't work a real job, can't...really...do much of anything other than be a badass.

He was growing up and given enough time would have been able to do all those things. His admittance to Skyler that he did it all for himself was a sign of that growth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2013


I just finished watching all of this show in a little over a week. Was hoping to be in time for the finale, couldn't quite manage it. So I'm just getting to read this thread now. Hope people don't mind if I add my jibber jabber to a bunch of small points at once.

I think doing it all so quickly made me notice a couple things more. For example, the last half season was chock-full of parallelisms with the first. Including

I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind

That, which echoed Crazy Eight's death, a key turning point in Walt 's corruption.

He revealed his ultimate goal for the first time in conversation with Skyler this episode: once he discovered he was dying, he wanted to feel alive. A few episodes back, when Jesse told Hank that he wanted to hit Walt where he lives, there was debate about what Jesse really meant. It wasn't perfectly clear that he was talking about Walt's money. In one sense Walt was all about the money, and in another sense Walt was all about providing for his family, but these values were waypoints, in service to his ultimate goal of absolute freedom.

I don't think it was freedom he wanted; it was power. His greatest moment of triumph was standing in the desert with Declan, making him say his name, Heisenberg. Walt talked a lot about family, and he talked a lot about freedom. But his actions aren't aimed simply at being able to do what he wants; they're aimed at being able to make other people do what he wants.

there's a moral problematic at the heart of the series. When Walt admits to Skyler that he acts for himself, he casts off his bad faith and comes close to achieving complete authenticity: what Sartre called 'being-for-itself'. I think Gilligan and the writers are being unknowingly disingenuous when they suggest that Walt's redemption consisted in finally providing for his family. It's much more complicated and --- dare I say --- existential than that. This show posits that being an authentic person requires casting off all shackles, including moral shackles.

Does it? Was Hank inauthentic? Were Mike and Jesse, who each have some small scruple, some code beyond sheer power, in authentic?

I think the show really does cause the audience to empathize with outright selfishness and the ultimate male power fantasy. That's not an indictment of the show, because it doesn't necessarily justify this outlook.

The show's pretty mixed; the ending is cowardly. That is, the show often makes you sympathize will Walt and root for him to kill his enemies; but the show always shows you the consequences of his victories, how often the backfire and how they always work to rip away another couple shreds of his humanity. But the ending --- the consequences are all played out; he finishes the prior episode at bottom, his legacy rejected, ready to give himself up. And then his amour propre, his pride, redeems deems him: He is insulted afreash by Gretchen and Elliot's interview, and his anger shows him a weakness, a crack he can pry open in order to work his will. And that's what lights a fire under his ass. And the consequences of his jealousy and pride, the scheming that results from it, improves pretty much every relationship in his life from where it is at the end of episode 15, and helps to burnish his legend.

Is he the monster? Is he a(n anti-) hero? A tragic character caught up in events more than he ever imagined? A victim of his own narcissism? Look at one, you don't see the other.

He's a tragic villain, like MacBeth or Richard III. Every bad thing that happens to him is a result of what he choses to do. If he has sucked it up and taken Gretchen and Elliot's money back in season one, his family would be in about the same place they are now --- poor and grieving and struggling. But they wouldn't hate him. They wouldn't fear him. And there would be no money. And there would be no legend of Heisenburg for the mariachis to sing of. And 100, 150 people would still be alive, give or take and not counting the junkies. And though Walt dislikes what happened to his family, he wouldn't take back Heisenburg. He says it himself: He enjoyed it. Because it made him feel alive. And him getting to have a purpose and a legacy was worth the body count, to him. When you stop caring about how your actions affect other people you stop being a victim. Letting his foster son live --- letting! It was up in the air until about 2 seconds before the Tommy gun went off --- doesn't wipe away the people he killed.

My favorite book's Lolita. I don't think I'm really ruining it for anybody to mention its ending, in which the pedophile Humbert Humbert realizes as he hears the distant voices of children at play that it terrible thing isn't her absence from his side, but the absence of her voice from that concord. Tragedy ain't about the pain your choices cause you. It's about the pain your choices cost other people.


Hmmmm. This is about a bajillion words and I haven't read half the thread still. Peacing out, I'll be back, even if by myself.
posted by Diablevert at 1:01 AM on October 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Last living member of Badfinger had no idea the song would be on the show
posted by heatvision at 6:46 AM on October 3, 2013


The most obvious clue to how things would end was given to us in the very first episode: this is a show about a dead man. That, in turn, led to a riddle. What is something that makes you die but doesn’t kill you? Answer: Walter White’s cancer.
posted by heatvision at 7:18 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Molland was never contacted, how did the producers clear the rights to the song? I assume they went through the label, but does a label really have carte blanche licensing discretion? What about all those artists that we always hear about not allowing their songs to be used in commercials and such? Or do they just have better contracts than whatever Molland/Badfinger has?
posted by Rhomboid at 7:52 AM on October 3, 2013


He didn't write the song, he just played on a recording of it. He probably doesn't have those rights. The story of Badfinger is the story a group of young men being repeatedly fucked over for a very long time. Tom Evans killed himself partly because of protracted arguments over the money that he did get from a cover version of a song that he did write.
posted by Grangousier at 8:02 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Essay self-link, with meta-link-back to this thread: Breaking Bad as inkblot test.
posted by jbickers at 8:05 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some commentators have alluded to Walter White’s increasing schizophrenia as the plot progresses whereby he is torn between his original goal to save his family and his subsequent delight in becoming a superbly successful criminal. But there is no need to invoke schizophrenia; it is much simpler than that. Once his morality is out of the window, Walt is left only with extremes. In between there are just lies and it is perhaps Walt’s worst foible that he excels at lying as no other.
posted by heatvision at 9:33 AM on October 3, 2013


Only by fully embracing Heisenberg, when he didn't have much left too lose, did he really rise to leaves of greatness.

Some typos are wonderful and metaphor/thought/image provoking.
posted by juiceCake at 10:05 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Breaking Bad is about one thing and one thing only: healthcare system. If there was a good socialized healthcare, the series is over in like 5 minutes: Walk calls in and makes an appointment to have treatment and later, surgery.
posted by rainy at 10:11 AM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Breaking Bad is about enjoying a gritty dark comedy with lovely cinematography.
posted by planetesimal at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love this:

Okay, stick with me here: Slavoj Zizek, talking about Hitchcock’s Psycho, says that the real traumatic moment of the film isn’t Marion’s murder, but Detective Arbogast’s. He said:

“How then, is it possible to surpass this shock [of Marion's completely unexpected murder]? Hitchcock found a solution: he succeeded in intensifying the effect by presenting the second murder as something expected . . . Behind its apparent simplicity, Arbogast’s murder relies on a refined dialectic of expected and unexpected, in short, of the (viewer’s) desire: [the viewer thinks] ‘I know very well that X will take place (that Arbogast will be murdered) yet I do not fully believe it (so I am nonetheless surprised when it happens).’”

These last eight episodes of Breaking Bad have, in this light, basically been the murder of Arbogast stretched out to eight hours, and I probably don’t even have to say that Breaking Bad is acutely aware of itself as a television show and engineers viewers’ reactions very well.

Two of the most powerful fifth season moments have utilized this technique on a smaller scale: first, after Hank’s connects the dots about Walt in “Blood Money”, we know very well that Hank and Walt will have a confrontation of some sort, and instead of ending that episode with Walt walking back to his car and driving home, he turns around and pulls the GPS tracker out of his pocket, leading to both parties showing their hands much earlier, and much more explicitly, than we could have imagined. Second, when “To’hajiilee” ends in the middle of a shootout between the DEA and the neo-Nazis, we know that Hank and Gomez won’t make it out alive, but we were given a week to find all of the ways in which they could possibly survive. The show set up the moment as inevitable and forced its viewers to still believe that there was a way that Hank and Gomez would survive.

When “Ozymandias” began with the fulfillment of our expectations with Gomez lying dead in the sand and Hank out of ammo, they stretch Hank’s inevitable demise out for an entire scene. Walt desperately tries to bargain with Jack, fully believing (as many of us did) that there is a way to avoid the inevitable, then, beautifully, Hank turns to Walt and says “You’re the smartest guy I ever met, but you’re too stupid to see that he made his mind up ten minutes ago.” I can almost see Vince Gilligan shrugging and saying, “well, we told you it would happen, why didn’t you believe us?”

posted by heatvision at 10:20 AM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Breaking Bad is about one thing and one thing only: healthcare system. If there was a good socialized healthcare, the series is over in like 5 minutes: Walk calls in and makes an appointment to have treatment and later, surgery.

His cancer was inoperable. But, yeah, the chemo would've been a lot cheaper.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 AM on October 3, 2013


He did have an operation later.
posted by rainy at 10:28 AM on October 3, 2013


The story of Badfinger is the story a group of young men being repeatedly fucked over for a very long time. Tom Evans killed himself partly because of

as I understand it, Badfinger signed a bad agreement with their manager (nothing new there), which only made things magnitudes worse when they got caught up in the catastrophic meltdown of Apple records. Meanwhile, Tom Evans, being a trusting guy, sided with said manager for way too long, leading to various tensions within and without the group. When it finally became clear to the poor guy that he'd been getting jerked around all the time, it was literally heartbreaking.

Because they really did give us some beautiful songs ... but ultimately got nothing but pain in return.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wasn't satisfied that Jesse strangled Todd from behind

That, which echoed Crazy Eight's death, a key turning point in Walt 's corruption.
Also I saw it as an echo of Mike garotting Don Eladio's enforcer/sniper in Salud. (An act of sudden explosive violence which startles the hell out of Jesse.)

On the most recent Insider podcast, Gilligan noted that one of the things they did best as writers was to mine their own history.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:03 AM on October 3, 2013


Ok, I am desperate to see a series of side-by-side gifs of scenes from the finale that echo scenes from previous episodes. I want all the callbacks, from Crazy 8's strangling (Jesse strangling Todd) to Jesse's cackling in the bumper car (Jesse's final getaway in the real car) to Hank and Marie in the living room with Walt's video playing between them (Elliot and Gretchen in their living room with Walt standing behind them)…it goes on and on. Is anybody on this yet?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:34 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Breaking Bad is about one thing and one thing only: healthcare system. If there was a good socialized healthcare, the series is over in like 5 minutes: Walk calls in and makes an appointment to have treatment and later, surgery.

Not really. Walt wasn't even going to get treatment in the beginning--he was forced into it by the talking-pillow intervention that Skyler had with Jr and Hank and Marie. Walt was a teacher and had health insurance, albeit not high-end insurance. Walt started out trying to make enough money to pay the mortgage on the house, and to pay for Jr's college, and have enough left over so his dying wouldn't beggar his family. He had it worked out to the dime how much money he'd need to make on meth.
posted by lovecrafty at 11:57 AM on October 3, 2013


He did agree to do chemo on the next day after intervention. One of the arguments he used is that he did not want to saddle his family with debt, when they were arguing with Skyler. I have a feeling it is the final indignity that broke the camel's back.

Medical expenses had a big role in prodding him on during the 1st season (perhaps 2nd, too, not sure I remember). Walt was determined to quit after the unpleasantness with Crazy-8 and Emilio. The bills were piling up. Then there was the operation that was even much more expensive than the chemo treatment.

There's a good chance that Walt would have felt there's some tragic dignity in succumbing to cancer in an early age, but the prospect of the same cancer dragging his family in unbearable debt and then killing him -- that changes a tragedy into a miserable, pathetic shuffle.
posted by rainy at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok, I am desperate to see a series of side-by-side gifs of scenes from the finale that echo scenes from previous episodes. I want all the callbacks

There were a lot of very specific callbacks in the final few episodes specifically to the first few episodes, full circle stuff, that I noticed. Lessee, the ones I can remember looking at my Twitter feed ---

-- Walt on top of butte to lookout, like Jesse did the first time they cooked
-- i think Walt wears the same outfit to the final showdown that he did to his first cook
-- Walt collapses naked on the bathroom floor after burying the money, overhead shot, just as he did after returning from second cook/shoot out in the camper w Emilio and Crazy 8
-- Walt's twisted false confession played by Hank and Marie starts the same way as the final words/confession video he makes in the pilot, when he think the cops are coming for him
--- Walt careening through the dessert on the run after the nazi shoot out, and the car breaks down, same as pilot (now that I think of it, cause --stray bullet to the radiator? -- might even be the same)
-- Skylar in her lawyer's office, the Emergency Broadcast Signal of Doom playing in her head; same as Walt being given his cancer diagnosis; both, when call upon lucidly demonstrate that they know they're fucked
--- Walt by the hotel pool deciding whether to kill Jesse, just like him at home deciding to cook meth
--- Walt trying to cover up his black eye with concealer to talk to Jr, same way Jesse covered his in pilot
--- this one's a little later, but Hank showing up out of nowhere to save a hidden Walt when Jesse's dousing the house with gas; same as when he turned up at Tuco's place in the dessert, both times tracking Jesse, I think?

That's all I spotted, there may have been others.
posted by Diablevert at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Walt wasn't in the house when Jessie was about to burn it down. It's true that Hank was tracking Jessie both times.
posted by rainy at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2013


The composition of pretty much every shot in this show is just lovely.
posted by heatvision at 1:25 PM on October 3, 2013


Walt wasn't in the house when Jessie was about to burn it down. It's true that Hank was tracking Jessie both times

Oh word, you're right I got mixed up, because there's the cliffhanger with Jesse spilling the gas and the Walt driving up and seeing the empty car and sneaking around the back, so you think Jesse's in the house the whole time, and it's only at the end that you see Hank whisked him away before Walt even got there...
posted by Diablevert at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2013


It was mentioned, but I really thought Walt was gonna say "what the hell", and smoke some meth there at the end, just to see what the fuss was all about.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:43 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Breaking Bad's greatest pre-credits moments
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:47 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Breaking Badfinger: Who Gets the Baby Blue Money?
posted by heatvision at 5:36 AM on October 4, 2013


Fans buy obit for Walter White in ABQ paper
posted by heatvision at 8:37 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's the full page A4 from the October 4th, 2013 Albuquerque Journal, includes the Walter White obituary on lower left (jpg).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:15 AM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am literally taking a break from developing material for a client that includes a faux set of references for a made-up scientific paper (we're doing this to demo some presentation technology, so we can't use any real material), and I'm wondering if anyone at this 1000-attendee presentation will pick up on the fact that the papers are written by Ehrmentraut, M., Goodman, S., Boetticher, G. et al.
posted by Shepherd at 1:43 PM on October 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


I am in BB withdrawal. Just got off the phone with a friend across the country and realized I spent five minutes explaining to him (again!) how much he missed by not being a watcher. Inserted myself into a Facebook thread about local mugshots by comparing them to Spooge's wife.
posted by maggieb at 9:55 PM on October 4, 2013


Judging from what I've said on social media tonight about Gravity, BB is now my measuring stick on how much butt clenching stress something induces. That movie does quite well in that regard.
posted by sparkletone at 11:07 PM on October 4, 2013


I managed to avoid spoilers for a week before watching the finale! Hey, it was great. I particularly liked how spare the sound mixing was, so much silence and empty spaces. Very grim, fits the characterization of Ghost Walt stalking.

Like many folks above I was a bit surprised at how pat and tidy the ending is. Walt finally got his way in every goal he had, in 24 hours he had set everything to rights. That's just too easy, particularly for a show whose whole story is about how Walt does his best to do something Bad and then it fucks up and everything after is awful consequences. Maybe it was just that he finally succeeded because his goals were so destructive, nihilistic.
posted by Nelson at 1:26 AM on October 5, 2013


I'm still so torn up about Hank being killed I couldn't really enjoy the last two episodes.

I thought it was a fine enough ending for the series. I'm relieved it was over. That was grueling.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:51 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bryan Cranston's "All the Way" is apparently coming to Broadway, per a post on Talkin' Broadway. I'm so excited!!!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:43 AM on October 5, 2013


Wired: Die Like a Man: The Toxic Masculinity of Breaking Bad

American Thinker: In Defense of Breaking Bad

Grantland compares the dream theory to Gilligan's own words on the finale: "It’s a goddamn writhing can of worms, man."
posted by heatvision at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Upon further reflection I'm annoyed that Walt got some measure of redemption and that he accomplished so many of the goals that eluded him for the entire season in a single episode. While crime didn't exactly pay, as it cost Walt his relationship with Skyler and Flynn and ensured Holly will likely never respect him, he also was able to provide for his kids' financial future, and die a hero's death liberating Jesse and saving him from death. Yes he died, but he was seemingly only months away anyway. I would have preferred an ending where his attempts at reconciliation were rebuffed by Skyler, where he was turned in by Jesse or Flynn, his money seized, and shortly after arriving in prison he was told by a state doctor that he was cancer-free, leaving him to contemplate living out a long sentence. And, only after that realization had set in, being shanked in the shower, months later, with the series ending with him bleeding to death, Badfinger's 'Baby Blue' playing while the credits rolled.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:44 AM on October 5, 2013


It's amazing how many people are disappointed that Walt wasn't more visibly punished.

Set against Gus's admonishment about what real men do, provide for their family even if they aren't loved or respected, Walt's accomplishments ring hollow.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:07 AM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


being shanked in the shower

It could actually be psychopathic in itself to watch an entire 5 season drama and want to see the central hero of the whole thing get 'shanked in the shower'. Perhaps the DEA could sponsor the show as well.
posted by colie at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2013


collie that was a really weird thing to say.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:04 AM on October 5, 2013


Well I guess we can all agree that the show has enough depth to inspire some weird comments...
posted by colie at 11:08 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is breaking bad.
posted by maggieb at 12:22 PM on October 5, 2013


I'm also weirded out by the whole 'Walt was too successful in the finale' line.

Before that, when his plans end up backfiring, he always had a much more ambitious goal: destroy his enemies, make millions, get off scott-free with no-one suspecting anything, with Hank and Jessie and himself alive and well.

I mean, really? This is basic logic. If your goals are simpler, it's easier to reach them.

If my goal is to run a marathon distance in 2 hours and I find it a challenge, and set a new goal of running 10 miles in 3 hours, it really should not be surprising (to smart people) that I meet 2nd goal and not the first.
posted by rainy at 12:36 PM on October 5, 2013


PASS IT ON!
posted by planetesimal at 12:41 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That latest Grantland piece continues the site's fetishization of the writing of Gilligan et al as "clever and deliberate"; you can see it as well in Andy Greenwald's finale review - "[The show] unfolded itself with such elegance and purpose." To me, that seems directly at odds with what we know (from "Vince Gilligan's own words," no less) about how the writers worked: they were often, and deliberately, anything *but* elegant and purposeful. The plotting could feel ridiculously slapdash as well as clean and purposeful and what we've learned over the years about the writing process bears that out. For just one of many instances, here's one of the show's writers on Terry Gross last week:

GROSS: Were there times where you ever felt you wrote yourself into a corner and you didn't know how to get out of it?

SCHNAUZ: I think the classic one was an episode called "Sunset," where we got Walt and Jesse together in the RV, tracked by Hank on the outside. And we had no idea what we were going to - we just had - and we were just coming up with bad idea after bad idea that we ultimately gave to Jesse to pitch about, well, what if we just...drill a hole on the bottom of the RV and escape through a manhole?

(LAUGHTER)


The writers did that kind of thing a lot, from not knowing what the heck they'd be doing with The Cousins when they created them to boxing themselves in with the airplane crash without knowing how it fit into the story they'd already started. I find the Grantland writers' odd obsession with order in Breaking Bad's writing to be strangely out-of-touch with the reality of how the show was actually written, at least in its first four seasons. It's a kind of revisionist interpretation of the show that's at least as bizarre as the "it was all a dream" stuff.
posted by mediareport at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes the openness that the writers/show runner have consistently displayed about how they followed hunches and sometimes didn't know where everything was going has been another of the amazingly refreshing and inspiring things about BB.

Of course, they're all concentrating and slaving away to the highest of their abilities to write the show, but also prepared to admit that sometimes you simply don't know what the hell you're getting into and you're actually hanging on for dear life to something partly out of control. Like Walt was. You get this in music more often (Bowie, Beatles, etc).

I guess that's in some ways the opposite of the ultra-corporate three-act tyranny of screenwriting.
posted by colie at 10:48 AM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


The writers did that kind of thing a lot, from not knowing what the heck they'd be doing with The Cousins when they created them to boxing themselves in with the airplane crash without knowing how it fit into the story they'd already started.

While the figure-things-out-as-they-go strategy really ended up working well for them overall --- Walt's solution with Gretchen and Elliot in the final episode was a brilliant product of desperation --- The Cousins and the airplane crash are by far the weakest parts of the series for me and really demonstrate the need for occasional rewrites.
posted by painquale at 11:01 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah. While I love the show, I tend to cringe at critics who effuse about the clockwork precision with which it unfolded. That's not really how it unfolded, and a rage for order doesn't seem to have been all that high on the writers' agenda.
posted by mediareport at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


There were a few sub plots that I wish that they had gone back to and/or wrapped up a bit better such as Marie's kleptomania and Jessie's relationship with his family
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:39 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think Jesse will ever feel clean enough to see his family again.
posted by merelyglib at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2013


I find the Grantland writers' odd obsession with order in Breaking Bad's writing to be strangely out-of-touch with the reality of how the show was actually written, at least in its first four seasons. It's a kind of revisionist interpretation of the show that's at least as bizarre as the "it was all a dream" stuff.

How they wrote it is irrelevant to whether or not the final product was orderly. It's an act of creation; the whole point is that you hit these problems and have to come up with a way to solve them as you go, that happens with any complex piece of narration. The challenge is finding the good solutions, ones that fit in with the themes of the show, the nature of the characters, the rules of the world you've set up. And that they did truly brilliant job at. I mean, compare it to something like Lost or the last season of Battlestar Galactica, where they wrote themselves into similar boxes and then solved them with ridiculous, character-breaking deus ex machinas which made nonsense of all that had happened before.
posted by Diablevert at 1:27 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Breaking Bad - The Ecstasy of Gold
posted by zombieflanders at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diablevert: Battlestar Galactica, where they wrote themselves into similar boxes and then solved them with ridiculous, character-breaking deus ex machinas which made nonsense of all that had happened before.

And, unfortunately, all that will happen again.
posted by tzikeh at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I understand that even some of us devoted fans get tired of hearing the level of praise that this show is getting right now. Yet I feel like the author is usually the least forthcoming source of information about the depth and value of a work, and I think that's a very deliberate choice. It always sounds better to just say, "oh, this old thing?" Or to do as Gilligan often does when asked what something means: turn it around on the questioner and ask, "what does it mean to you?" Searching for one definitive reading of the show that is beyond dispute sucks some of the fun out of it to me, in the same way it does when people search for moral clarity in it. I love it that you can read so much of it in so many ways, even if I don't see it from the same angle; I think that aspect is a testament to the quality of the writing on its own.

I used to hate the 737 crash too. But I came to really like it, for the same reasons outlined in the FPP article regarding coincidence: Walt's actions led to the deaths of 167 people, and he is the only person that knows that--he can share it with no one. He didn't mean for it to happen, but that's irrelevant. It's an extreme example of the process we see again and again in the series--that Walt is so obsessive about control that he thinks he can enact his plan without collateral damage, but he can't. No one could. And because he has a heart, it hurts him. This transformation that he thought was going to make him all-powerful tears him apart along the way because he can't control it. I find that so very fascinating, and I think this turn of events works well to highlight that theme.

That the crash occurs right after Skyler has finally given him the boot also makes that season-ender a real kick in the pants for Walt and his ideas about his place in the world, and then he becomes more of a control freak in season 3. The script for No Mas says that Walt sat in that recliner watching TV and weeping over the newspapers for a week, not having slept for days before he decided to burn his money. And I think watching him cocoon himself in his own bullshit afterwards, to protect himself from his own guilt, is pretty amazing, and quite funny. We get his misery during the "goddamned emo-porn" gym assembly and his hilariously awkward "bright side" speech, then we get his "I blame the government" dialogue with Jesse. And then by the next episode, he's using the debris field as an excuse when the cop pulls him over.

Breaking Bad Obit Triggers Frenzy: The Journal library said phone requests to mail out newspapers ran at least 10 times normal volume, and a large portion of those callers had purchased multiple copies. Newspapers had been sent as far away as Manitoba, Canada, and from New York to California.
posted by heatvision at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Michelle McLaren will be on Q with Jian Ghomeshi tomorrow morning.
posted by mannequito at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2013


"Michelle McLaren will be on Q with Jian Ghomeshi tomorrow morning."

That's interesting. He knows a little bit about Albuquerque. My ex-wife knew (knows?) Jian very well; she knew the Moxy guys for years before they formed the band and she dated Mike Ford before she met me. I never actually met Jian, he was still at York for most of our marriage. I sort of found him annoying by second-hand, though.

Anyway, my ex and I lived in Albuquerque through those years and she corresponded with Jian a little bit, more with Mike. And then they formed Moxy and they did play in Santa Fe once when we lived up there. It was one month after she and I had separated and I didn't end up going, which bummed me out.

So Jian should be a little familiar with the whole New Mexico thing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:19 PM on October 7, 2013


I used to hate the 737 crash too. But I came to really like it, for the same reasons outlined in the FPP article regarding coincidence: Walt's actions led to the deaths of 167 people, and he is the only person that knows that--he can share it with no one.

I don't dislike the scene because a coincidence was involved. I dislike it because Walt is so causally removed from the plane crash that I don't think he is the least bit morally culpable for it. He certainly couldn't be held legally liable for it, and the same considerations that speak against his legal culpability also speak against his moral culpability. Blaming Walt for the plane crash would be like blaming Q's wife if he was distracted at air traffic control because she told him she was leaving him the previous night.

The writers have talked about how they eventually decided that the bear came from a plane crash, and they wanted Walt to be responsible. But they shoehorned his responsibility into a plot that was already otherwise scripted, so the causal distance between his actions and the plane crash, the fact that his was an act of commission rather than omission, the complete unforeseeability of the effects of his actions, and the mediation of another agent in the causal chain, make him seem as removed from the event as they guy who drove Q to work in the morning (another person whose actions caused the plane crash). If they really wanted to stick with the airline crash, they could have had Walt do something more direct (but still requiring a coincidental co-factor), like calling in a bomb threat to the airport in order to divert Hank or something. But as it stands, they may as well have had Q slip on a bag of Walt's meth and get a bad headache that led to the plane crash. I doubt Walt would or should feel guilty about that, so I did not buy that he would or should feel guilty about the plane crash. The fact that the pink bear was teased though out the season made the outcome that much more disappointing.
posted by painquale at 4:12 PM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't see him as that far removed. The crash was directly caused by Donald's distress over Jane's death, which was directly caused by Walt (he unthinkingly rolled her out of the recovery position and then deliberately refused to save her when she started spitting up).

Sure, there's no way he could have known that his act of manslaughter would lead to such mass death (just like there's no way he could have foreseen all the other ways his other schemes spiraled out of control), but he surely understood that Jane's death would be devastating to everyone who cared about her, and utterly disregarded that for his own selfish ends. That puts the consequences of that devastation squarely on his shoulders.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:25 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


We never found out if the teddy bear eye made it out.
posted by planetesimal at 4:30 PM on October 7, 2013


painquale: If they really wanted to stick with the airline crash, they could have had Walt do something more direct

But that wasn't the point. Of course Walt isn't directly responsible. Walt wouldn't become more directly responsbile for things until later in the show, as part of the evolution of the character. There were lines Walt wouldn't knowingly cross yet. It was part of his realization in the aftermath of the Jane/crash incident that he would inevitably be a menace if wanted to play this game, and Walt decided it was worth it. Compare actively killing Gale, who was himself not a threat, to passively letting Jane die, who was a threat. It had to be bit by bit.
posted by spaltavian at 6:32 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't dislike the scene because a coincidence was involved. I dislike it because Walt is so causally removed from the plane crash that I don't think he is the least bit morally culpable for it. He certainly couldn't be held legally liable for it, and the same considerations that speak against his legal culpability also speak against his moral culpability.

See, that's exactly why I thought it was an interesting choice, and a resonant one. Because I wouldn't say that Walt has the blood of those 150-odd people on his hands. But I would say that if Walt hadn't allowed Jane to die, they would be alive. And I think that interesting grey area is where a lot of the consequences of Walt's breaking bad are, and the fact that he refuses to recognize that is precisely his hubris. He can't contain the impact his choices have on other people. To come to understand the risks of collateral damage and plunge on ahead despite that is a big part of what makes him a villain, just as much as the murders he's directly responsible for.
posted by Diablevert at 6:44 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because I wouldn't say that Walt has the blood of those 150-odd people on his hands. But I would say that if Walt hadn't allowed Jane to die, they would be alive. And I think that interesting grey area is where a lot of the consequences of Walt's breaking bad are, and the fact that he refuses to recognize that is precisely his hubris.

The reason I dislike it is: if this show were called Breaking Good and Walt had to kill Jane because she was going on a junkie rampage and murdering babies and kittens, the outcome would have been exactly the same. If Jane heroically died saving said babies and kittens, the outcome would have been the same. Hell, if she and Jesse had run off with the money, there's a really good chance they would both have overdosed anyway, and the outcome would have been the same. What about if I dated Jane and then dumped her, and she was depressed and that sent her over the edge and killed herself- would the plane crash be my fault?

There are all kinds of examples of Walt's terrible hubris coming back to bite him in the ass, but the plane crash is a pretty damn weak one. His decision to let Jane die was an absolutely incredible moment of television, and it was fine on its own, but the plane crash was just sort of silly.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The plane crash is symbolically the ruin Walt is willing to suffer upon bystanders, which he decided in the moment he let Jane die. I think letting Jane die was the most pivotal moment in the show; and the first time we see that Walt has really changed. I think you can forgive the show wanting to make it a little more spectacular. The entire story to that point was building up to that moment.
posted by spaltavian at 7:38 AM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I actually agree with everyone, because I believe that *cough, cough* it's all connected. From one angle, the crash is a coincidence for which he bears no personal responsibility, and from another, it's totally his fault. The very concept of a coincidence is entirely contingent on your own viewpoint and the breadth of your own knowledge. As the coincidence article says:
Coincidences are random events that seem related because we as humans like to have things make sense. Our minds desire logical solutions to problems; we want a world as seamless and organized as we think it should be, even if that means pigeonholing events into outlandish improbabilities. That’s why weird water spots that look like faces are actually Faces o’ Jesus. They conform to the viewer’s belief in Jesus, the existence of miracles, and the non-randomness of leaky pipes.

I think this whole issue is exactly what Walt was struggling with in Fly, when his desire to control everything around himself was stronger than ever, yet totally ineffectual: (for the first time in the series) Hank had been shot because of Walt's involvement in the drug trade and Skyler immediately blamed him for it. He had finally acknowledged that he could not control his marriage or Skyler, so he signed the divorce papers and moved out. Jesse kept pilfering from the superlab, endangering them both, and Walt could do nothing to stop him. His failure to control the universe around him gives him insomnia, which leads to this mania over the fly in the lab. Then, having been dosed by Jesse, he goes off on a few half-conscious tangents:
Walt: My God, the universe is random, it's chaos. It's subatomic particles and endless pings, collisions – that's what science teaches us. What does this say? What is it telling us that the very night that this man's daughter dies, it's me who is having a drink with him? I mean, how could that be random?

He doesn't actually mention the 737, but his guilt over Jane comes out to Jesse at the end of the episode as well. What I'm getting at is that I think maybe the relevant thing here is that Walt sees the 737 as his fault, and internalizes the guilt of all those deaths, regardless of whether his culpability could ever be objectively calculated.

And throughout the series, he constantly suffers from the fallacious idea that he is intelligent enough to see all the connections, to have every decision he makes be informed and calculated, and to therefore have control over his world. I see that as leading to "stupid smart guy" stuff like this much further down the line:

Walt: What happened to that boy was a tragedy and it tears me up inside. But because it happened, am I supposed to just lie down and die with him? It's done! It makes me sick that it happened, just like everyone else who has died in our wake. What Todd did... you and I have done things that are just as bad.
Jesse: Yeah.
Walter: All the people that we've killed – Gale... and the rest. If you believe that there's a Hell – I don't know if you're into that – but we're already pretty much going there. But I'm not gonna lie down until I get there.
Jesse: What, just because I don't want to cook meth any more, I'm lying down? How many more people are gonna die 'cause of us?
Walter: No one. None. Now that we're in control, no one else gets hurt.

Breaking Bad: The 8 Big Questions We're Still Pondering

3 Ways "Breaking Bad" Shows the Future of Television

‘There’s nothing here but chemistry’: ‘Breaking Bad’ and the Philosophy of Religion

Idaho governor proclaims Oct. 1 Aaron Paul Day
posted by heatvision at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The plane crash is symbolically the ruin Walt is willing to suffer upon bystanders, which he decided in the moment he let Jane die....The entire story to that point was building up to that moment.

Gilligan himself has said that's not how it happened, spaltavian:

...when we got deeper into season two, we knew it would end with a plane crash and that it would be Jane's dad who would be the air traffic controller, but we didn't know for sure whether he'd do it on purpose, or just how Jane was going to die. We thought maybe she was going to be driving across town with tears in her eyes to have some loving reunion with Jesse and get t-boned by a car or something.

I don't see how you can claim "the entire story to that point was building up to" the plane crash when Gilligan has pointed out that when they boxed themselves in with the plane crash as part of the end of the season, they had no idea Walt would be anywhere near having responsibility for it.
posted by mediareport at 7:50 AM on October 8, 2013


It was part of his realization in the aftermath of the Jane/crash incident that he would inevitably be a menace if wanted to play this game, and Walt decided it was worth it. Compare actively killing Gale, who was himself not a threat, to passively letting Jane die, who was a threat. It had to be bit by bit.

The transition from letting Jane die to killing Gale was a good bit by bit transition, but the plane crash didn't add anything to this progression. If it said anything about Walt's slide into evil, which I don't think it did, it was a step back from letting Jane die. It weakened the impact of that decision by trying to make the consequences more important.

The plane crash was so unforeseeable from his position, it was just as likely that his actions could have prevented a plane crash. It could have turned out that Q would be so distressed by Jane's death that he wouldn't go in to work, whereas if he had gone in, he'd be so distracted over the possibility that Jane was back on drugs that he would have caused the plane crash.

I think maybe the relevant thing here is that Walt sees the 737 as his fault, and internalizes the guilt of all those deaths, regardless of whether his culpability could ever be objectively calculated.

I don't think that Walt was that torn up by the 737 crash, or that he thinks that he is responsible. It's notable that they never really have him refer to his role in it: I think it would come across as really false for the character. He's torn up over Jane's death, because he certainly caused that, so they bring that up again and again. They didn't need to add in an accidental mass killing that was caused by him breaking bad but that could have just as likely been caused by him breaking good. I bet that if they wrote any scenes in which he in any way expressed guilt for the plane crash, they left them on the cutting room floor because they rang false.
posted by painquale at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was part of his realization in the aftermath of the Jane/crash incident that he would inevitably be a menace if wanted to play this game, and Walt decided it was worth it.

I guess the main point of contention is that I don't think Walt had any sort of realization like this that hinged on the plane crash. Jane's death, sure, but not the plane crash. They might have intended that to be the point, but I don't think they ever actually showed Walt having this realization in episodes afterward because it'd make him look really dumb. Walt is a menace because of the game he plays, but the plane crash was not a manifestation of his being a menace because of the game he plays, so they couldn't show him thinking that this was so without making him seem foolish.
posted by painquale at 8:13 AM on October 8, 2013


mediareport, that's the story of how the show was written. I said the show builds up to that pivotal momemnt; not that was what the writers had always planned. Also, I said the story built up to Jane; not the crash. The crash was the exclamation point at the end of th decision Walt made.
posted by spaltavian at 8:57 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think casting it as an "exclamation point" frames exactly what I think is wrong with it, which is that the inclusion of the plane crash as a plot point both trivializes the crash -- since its actual ramifications on the events that follow are pretty minimal considering its scope -- and distracts from the drama of Walt allowing Jane to die, which is a sufficiently powerful moment to need no underscoring. Also, symbolism isn't an unalloyed good: symbols like this one, that bear all the marks of having been inserted intentionally and have such a simplistic semantic payload, diminish the work they belong to, since they make it so amenable to paraphrase: there's very little about the show's treatment of the plane crash that doesn't come through in a simple summary of the events, which I think is a good sign that it's a weak element. One of the things that's great about this show is that it's mostly an irreducible experience, where Walt's transformation can't really be communicated with the same effect in any form more condensed than the show itself, but the plane crash is one of those times where it felt like the writers diverged from that course significantly.
posted by invitapriore at 9:52 AM on October 8, 2013


I don't see how you can claim "the entire story to that point was building up to" the plane crash when Gilligan has pointed out that when they boxed themselves in with the plane crash as part of the end of the season, they had no idea Walt would be anywhere near having responsibility for it.

The story is written; now it means what it means. Sorry to be gnomic, but: Yeah, as they were writing the season, the writers had a range of possible endings to pick from. And then they picked one. The meaning in narrative is always subject to various interpretations. But only one thing happens in the story. If Jane had died by being hit by a car or merely OD'd without Walt's being there, the meaning of the story would be different than the way it is now. Whether or not they planned this particular wrinkle months in advance or merely chose it as they went along is irrelevant; choice creates constraint. Each action of the character is another Lego brick building the world, as as you build certain paths are walled off. You don't have to know the moral of the story before writing it for there to be a moral. It's often the case that the meaning is revealed to you by the act of writing, by making all those little decisions about what feels right and what doesn't, what character A would say here and what character B replies.

The reason I dislike it is: if this show were called Breaking Good and Walt had to kill Jane because she was going on a junkie rampage and murdering babies and kittens, the outcome would have been exactly the same. If Jane heroically died saving said babies and kittens, the outcome would have been the same. Hell, if she and Jesse had run off with the money, there's a really good chance they would both have overdosed anyway, and the outcome would have been the same. What about if I dated Jane and then dumped her, and she was depressed and that sent her over the edge and killed herself- would the plane crash be my fault?

Dunno if you can say the outcome would have been exactly the same. If Jane had died a hero's death, would her father have been so overwhelmed by his grief? If she'd run away and her father was angry at her and maybe never learned of her death, would it have been the same?

The plane crash is not an if-then thing. It's not a Rube Goldberg machine, even. It's a little tap on the ship of fate, a butterfly wing flap in Tokyo making a hurricane in the Gulf. It's unpredictable, and in that sense you can say it's not Walt's fault. But a lot of things in life are like that --- in particular, a lot of disasters are like that, one small slip, one chance choice, that set the wheels in motion. That's the thing that I think works, symbolically, about it. We humans can't cogitate second-order effects. We can't think that many moves ahead. But Walt always thinks he's steps ahead.

I don't think Walt had any sort of realization like this that hinged on the plane crash

What was all that sitting by the bombed-out pool in his bathrobe, collecting eyeballs and deciding to set his money on fire? And then changing his mind and diving back into the blue (color of meth) water?
posted by Diablevert at 10:01 AM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think letting Jane die was the most pivotal moment in the show; and the first time we see that Walt has really changed.

Yes; Jane dying is when Walt is truly damned.

But I'd argue also that Walt killing Krazy 8 is an earlier transformative moment. He gasses Emilio and Krazy 8 in the pilot, yes. But the later killing of Krazy 8 in the basement is a much more premeditated and deliberate decision. It's an realization of what he is capable of; and also an acknowledgement that his actions in entering the criminal world will have consequences for him.

I feel there's a through line to Walt's murder-by-Aztek of the two dealers threatening Jesse in Half Measures. By that point Walt has reached a point at which killing seems matter-of-fact, almost inconsequential. His shooting of the survivor was shocking to me because he seems so unconcerned by it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I found Jane's death to be the true turning point in the show, too, which created for me a somewhat paradoxical feeling about the plane crash. I could have believed that the pre-Jane's-death Walt may have been moved by the plane crash, and may have felt responsible, in some way, for how his actions were instrumental in a chain of events culiminating in so many deaths. But the post-Jane's-death Walt had already crossed, in my estimation, that point where he really cared about the collateral damage his actions caused. Otherwise, he wouldn't have just let Jane die.

But, without letting Jane die the plane crash wouldn't have occurred, so...
posted by MoonOrb at 11:45 AM on October 8, 2013


But I'd argue also that Walt killing Krazy 8 is an earlier transformative moment.

I agree. As soon as he writes out that list of pros and cons of killing Krazy 8, he has decided that killing someone is ultimately a practical decision; morality enters into it, but only as an entry on the pros/cons list, something to be weighed against the possible benefits. After that, it's just a matter of lowering his cost/benefit standards until even killing Mike seems acceptable to him. He might even argue that by the time he's killing Mike or shivving the guys in prison, he's killed so many people that the moral harm of killing one more is much less than it was at the beginning - that seems like just the sort of twisted logic that would appeal to him.
posted by dialetheia at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2013


We had a deal, Kyle But I'd argue also that Walt killing Krazy 8 is an earlier transformative moment. He gasses Emilio and Krazy 8 in the pilot, yes. But the later killing of Krazy 8 in the basement is a much more premeditated and deliberate decision.

There's certainly an evolution. What I think is different is that with Jane, there was no turning back for Walter. Krazy-8 was an issue of Walter White, obsequious chemistry teacher, mustering up the courage to do what had to be done. (I use "courage" in a neutral sense.) I'm sure most of the audience was going "Come on, Walt, just kill him now". The only reason it had to be a "premeditated and deliberate" decision was because Walt actually tried to not kill guy who was obviously going to kill him.

Yes, it had an impact on him (he started cutting off his own crusts from then on), but it was self-defense from a person who was going to directly harm him. Walt could have killed him and still gone "well, I'm out" and lived the rest of his (terminally ill) life thinking he was Walter White, a sick family man who had to do something crazy that one time. This wasn't the case with Jane. Unlike Krazy-8, letting Jane die wasn't something pre-cancer Walt would have done even in extremis. I think it's our first real proof that Walt had changed, rather than just being the same guy but desperate.

That's why I think Jane was the pivotal moment of the show. His chessmatch with Fring was my favorite part of the show, but that battle was the natural consquence of someone as smart and proud as Walt acting like the person he became when he let Jane die.
posted by spaltavian at 1:39 PM on October 8, 2013


I found Jane's death to be the true turning point in the show, too, which created for me a somewhat paradoxical feeling about the plane crash. I could have believed that the pre-Jane's-death Walt may have been moved by the plane crash, and may have felt responsible, in some way, for how his actions were instrumental in a chain of events culiminating in so many deaths. But the post-Jane's-death Walt had already crossed, in my estimation, that point where he really cared about the collateral damage his actions caused. Otherwise, he wouldn't have just let Jane die.

I think the plane crash is still important there because in allowing Jane to die Walt still feels he's committing an evil he can control, and one for the greater good: Jane presented a threat to him and, he believed, to Jesse's life. By letting her die he removes that threat and gives himself the opportunity to win Jesse back; those Pros outweighed the Cons committing negligent homicide and bringing suffering to her family. That price he was willing to pay (or at least cause others to pay). The plane crash is the unforeseen consequence, the collateral damage he couldn't have anticipated. I don't think at that point --- maybe at any point --- that Walt would have mowed down 150 innocent people in exchange for Jesse's soul and his own family's protection. And that's the crux -- Walt didn't murder the plane crash victims, he's not directly responsible for their deaths. But neither can he ever account for all the angles on a neat little pro-con list. There are unknown unknowns. The evil that men do lives after them. Brutus meant to save the republic by murdering Caesar; instead he brought about the civil war that ended it forever and led to the deaths of thousands, his own among them.
posted by Diablevert at 1:40 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, he keeps running up against this again and again on the show: Walter can win, but he can't win and think of himself the way he wants to. And that's ultimately the resolution of the show; Walt wins his last fight but he had to finally drop his pretenses. Losing his family was, for him, the ultimate collateral damage and since it was his banner, he had to face it.
posted by spaltavian at 2:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The people arguing that the finale was a dying dream remind me of a story from an earlier season: After the season finale where Jesse shot Gale, there were people arguing that really, Jesse turned the gun before pulling the trigger, so Gale survived off-screen.

This argument surprised the writers, and this is why when Gus died, they went hilariously over-the-top to ensure there was no possible doubt whatsoever.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brutus meant to save the republic by murdering Caesar; instead he brought about the civil war that ended it forever and led to the deaths of thousands, his own among them.

The moral of the story is that your assassination plot has to account for seconds-in-command and pissant grandnephews.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I forgot all about this dialogue.
posted by heatvision at 6:03 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Scarface creator and non-viewer Oliver Stone catches the finale and runs his mouth off about it

Opera based on Ozymandias in the works

roadside memorial for W.W. in ABQ near Nazi compound filming site
posted by heatvision at 6:35 AM on October 9, 2013


I somewhat agree with Oliver Stone about the machine gun gambit; if that is all I saw of the series, I'd be pretty skeptical about the quality of the show. I don't think that any other plan of Walt's is quite so Wile E. Coyote cartoonish, except maybe for the fake-meth bomb he used to blow out Tuco's second story hideout. (When he was building the gun robot in the desert, they should have had a crate that said ACME next to him.) Gus's death was a Looney Tunes death, but the plan itself wasn't. But the finale was wrapped in so much other goodness that is only apparent if you're familiar with the characters, it's forgivable.
posted by painquale at 8:01 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've rewatched the series (since the finale) up to the end of S2. One thing I wish is that they'd spent more time establishing the relationship between Walt and Skylar before straining it. I'm not a Skylar-hater, but I don't think the writers did themselves any favors by taking that aspect of things for granted.
posted by Eideteker at 8:45 AM on October 9, 2013


Better crime through science has always been a major element of the show. At some point you have to accept Walt is a genius or the entire conceit of the show fails anyway.
posted by spaltavian at 9:12 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The moral of the story is that your assassination plot has to account for seconds-in-command and pissant grandnephews.

Yeah, but that's exactly the thing: Cassius could talk Brutus into the assassination only to preserve the republic. Brutus killed Caesar to prevent him from becoming a dictator, and it's at least possible to imagine that he could have persuaded the Senate that Caesar's death was necessary for that. But the murders of his staff, his household, his family? That's not gonna fly as targeted problem-elimination. That's sheer power-grab, the play you'd make if you wanted to become a dictator yourself. That's always the problem with trying to be a half-bastard.
posted by Diablevert at 10:03 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I somewhat agree with Oliver Stone about the machine gun gambit; if that is all I saw of the series, I'd be pretty skeptical about the quality of the show. I don't think that any other plan of Walt's is quite so Wile E. Coyote cartoonish, except maybe for the fake-meth bomb he used to blow out Tuco's second story hideout. (When he was building the gun robot in the desert, they should have had a crate that said ACME next to him.) Gus's death was a Looney Tunes death, but the plan itself wasn't. But the finale was wrapped in so much other goodness that is only apparent if you're familiar with the characters, it's forgivable.

Fair enough on the Oliver Stone thing. I often forget that despite the copious violence in his films, he always has some sort of anti-violence or anti-war message in there. So, sorry for the dumb link title. It's not like I'm doing anything here except running my own mouth. I was just a little peeved by the "you kids believe this shit" comment, which ignores the depth and the elegant variations of opinions that I see in threads like this one.

Unless they release deleted scenes in which Walt escapes from his snowy cabin and wreaks vengeance on his enemy by building rocket skates or mailing someone a wildcat, the giant magnet tops my BrBa cartoonishness scale. In true Acme fashion, it didn't even work as intended.
posted by heatvision at 10:38 AM on October 9, 2013


(Dexter spoilers, not that you should care.)

I got a bit of a kick out of this: Dexter Producer: Showtime Wouldn’t Let Us Kill Dexter
"They won't let us kill him," he told us. "Showtime was very clear about that. When we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, 'Just to be clear, he's going to live.' There were a lot of endings discussed because it was a very interesting problem to solve, to bring it to a close. People have a relationship with Dexter, even if it doesn't have the size and the ferocity of the fan base for Breaking Bad. But it has a very core loyal following."
I can't tell whether the implication was that they wanted the option to continue the franchise in the future, or whether they were concerned about upsetting fans. But either way, that's completely insane logic -- I don't think Michael C. Hall would ever agree to come back to this after doing it for so long. Even if he did, with Deb dead the central relationship of the show is gone. Moreover, the last few seasons have incinerated any remaining goodwill among the fans that stuck it out to the end, so I can't see there being any interest. And if it was the latter, then somebody needs to get the message that it's not a main character's death that upsets fans, it's terrible writing. If the goal is to avoid fan upset, try not writing crap. Or perhaps it's door number three: Goldwyn knows he's in the doghouse and is lashing out with excuses; a satisfying ending could have been written without Dexter dying.

Sorry for the derail.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oooh, I forgot about the giant magnet. Yeah, that was cartoonish, but it didn't quite hit the level of the gun robot for me.

I kinda like the Walter E. Coyote image. Even the landscape is right.

No need to apologize for the link title; he was running off his mouth about something he didn't fully understand. I just thought he happened to accidentally be right.
posted by painquale at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2013


The M-60 contraption at least had physical plausibility. The magnet truck was completely in the land of fantasy -- magnetic fields decrease in magnitude with distance far too rapidly for that be an even remotely workable idea. The magnet that picks up cars in the junkyard only works because it can come into contact with the roof. It's not causing metal from ten feet away to fly through the air.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:41 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The M-60 contraption at least had physical plausibility.

In fact, it actually worked as built, according to Gilligan on the insider podcast. He promised extensive coverage of that scene in a making-of doco that's going to be included in the forthcoming box set.
posted by planetesimal at 12:46 PM on October 9, 2013


"I thought it was really sad," she said when asked if she bid farewell to Breaking Bad Sunday, Sept. 29. "I didn't like it at all. I didn't think he should have died…maybe they'll do another episode where the ambulance comes and revives him."

Oh, Britney...
posted by sparkletone at 1:00 PM on October 9, 2013


The magnet truck was completely in the land of fantasy

Somewhere or other Gilligan said when they were talking with the Mythbusters guys about the Breaking Bad-themed episode of that show that when he asked what they were doing, they laughed at the idea of disproving that one because it was too obviously false.
posted by sparkletone at 1:06 PM on October 9, 2013


Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg offered the show's creators $75 million for three more episodes, which he would then snip into six-minute segments and sell individually online over a month.
posted by heatvision at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2013



Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg offered the show's creators $75 million for three more episodes, which he would then snip into six-minute segments and sell individually online over a month.


Six minutes, hunh? Glad they didn't do it just for the aesthetics; it would have been wrong for a show about meth to go out on a string of crack hits.
posted by Diablevert at 1:47 PM on October 9, 2013


75 million. Jesus. That's nearly as much as Walt had in his barrels. I can't believe they turned that down. It is crazy to me that they turned that down.
posted by painquale at 5:22 PM on October 9, 2013


Really? That's a terrible format for what the show does, and everyone involved has moved on. And given the ending it'd have to be some sort of sensible middle-of-the-continuity thing and just ugh, no. The only thing they could do now by making more Breaking Bad (Saul spinoff doesn't count) is tarnish their staggering achievement. It's an offer from a fan with more money than sense, and only a greedy hack would accept. Gilligan et al. would never go for it.
posted by sparkletone at 6:50 PM on October 9, 2013


some sort of sensible

Some sort of terrible, rather.
posted by sparkletone at 7:04 PM on October 9, 2013


The offer was made six weeks ago, before the last five or so episodes had aired. Everyone involved, including Katzenberg, now recognizes that it's a complete non-starter. It was mentioned as an anecdote as part of a speech he gave at a conference for entertainment executives as an example of how optimistic he is of the idea of selling short-form content online.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:12 PM on October 9, 2013


Really? That's a terrible format for what the show does, and everyone involved has moved on.

Well, sure. But on the other hand: 75 million dollars. I bet some of the creators are privately kicking themselves for killing off Walt and making it impossible to take up this offer.

I'm also not sure that they would have been that bad. The webisodes were entertaining, and an episode consists of a whole bunch of six minute scenes anyway. They'd lose the ability to vary the length of each scene, but they'd be able to do some interesting things with cliffhangers. I'd be pretty curious to see what that show would look like.
posted by painquale at 8:43 PM on October 9, 2013


To be clear, I don't think it's ipso facto a terrible format. Husbands is pretty damn charming. I just think it wouldn't work for Breaking Bad. The webisodes were fine as supplemental material, but it would not be the show it is if it was done that way. 90 minutes of webisodes (or things that length) would ... not work in my opinion. Better to do something original and good and designed to fit the format rather than cram BB into it.
posted by sparkletone at 8:49 PM on October 9, 2013


some sort of sensible

Some sort of terrible, rather.


Sing it to the tune of [bad/worse].
posted by Sys Rq at 10:16 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, sure. But on the other hand: 75 million dollars. I bet some of the creators are privately kicking themselves for killing off Walt and making it impossible to take up this offer.

Here's a koan for you: If money is your biggest objective, then you will only ever take actions that will earn you the most money, which means you wouldn't have made Breaking Bad and thus be talked about as a moneymaker.

Why go for a thoughtful, compelling drama when there are cheap and popular reality shows you could make?
posted by JHarris at 7:17 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Omaha Cinnabons and the Belize Tourism Board acknowledge BrBa references

Inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass auctions for $65,500, Tio's bell for $26,750, tighty-whities for $9,900, other Screenbid auction results
posted by heatvision at 7:26 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Russian man changes name to Jesse Heisenbergovich Pinkman
posted by heatvision at 12:58 PM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


That just makes me think of Jesse Eisenberg.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 PM on October 10, 2013


Walt and Jesse kids
posted by maggieb at 1:45 AM on October 11, 2013


The Terrible Fucking Twos
posted by mannequito at 2:26 AM on October 11, 2013


The Wrap: Why ‘Breaking Bad’ Just Might Be the Perfect Requiem for Celluloid

EW: Anna Gunn talks saying goodbye to Skyler, her last scene, and what's next

New York Times: Literary figures react to the show on Twitter: “Walter White joins pantheon of American mythic types: Deerslayer, Ahab, Huck Finn, the Virginian, Gatsby, Scarlett O’Hara, Willy Loman.” - Joyce Carol Oates
posted by heatvision at 12:24 PM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think he goes them all one better, if only because he also has the iconic drawing/rendering.
posted by planetesimal at 12:28 PM on October 11, 2013


“Walter White joins pantheon of American mythic types: Deerslayer, Ahab, Huck Finn, the Virginian, Gatsby, Scarlett O’Hara, Willy Loman.” - Joyce Carol Oates

maybe. I say, give him half a century or so first.


and where Yossarian on that list?
posted by philip-random at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Breaking Bad theme | Guitar + Pot
posted by maggieb at 5:53 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


That reminded me of this - Breaking Bad theme played with meth lab equipment
posted by mannequito at 11:49 PM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Breaking Bad Tennis Announcer
posted by aerotive at 9:26 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For Christmas I am giving Tio Hector bells to friends and family who would not even try to like Breaking Bad. Whenever I go to their houses imma be all DING! DING! DING!
posted by maggieb at 7:27 PM on October 13, 2013


I AM THE ONE WHO DINGS.
posted by Artw at 9:22 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I AM THE ONE WHO DINGS.

*ding*

I AM THE ONE WHO FRINGS.

*ding*

I AM THE ONE WHO CLINGS.

*ding*

THEY'RE MINERALS, MARIE, JESUS.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:29 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen - ever."

Stephen Michael Quezada posted a letter from Anthony Hopkins, addressed to Bryan Cranston and the rest of the Breaking Bad cast.
posted by Superplin at 7:33 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heisenbaby
posted by maggieb at 11:03 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clicking Bad
Meth dealing version of cookie clicker... even more addictive that it sounds
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:27 AM on October 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Stephen Michael Quezada posted a letter from Anthony Hopkins, addressed to Bryan Cranston and the rest of the Breaking Bad cast.

This link didn't work for me when I clicked it, so here's a vanity fair post with the full text of the letter.
posted by sparkletone at 11:29 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clicking Bad
Meth dealing version of cookie clicker... even more addictive that it sounds


Man, you're not joking. I just lost an hour to clicking.
posted by ColdChef at 2:37 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This link didn't work for me when I clicked it, so here's a vanity fair post with the full text of the letter.

I'm sorry--I assumed it was a publicly accessible Facebook page, since I don't follow SMQ on Facebook but saw it linked by someone else.
posted by Superplin at 3:30 PM on October 14, 2013


That fan letter, wow. I still remember Cranston as the dad from Malcolm in the Middle, so it's almost like an old friend hit it big.
posted by JHarris at 5:19 PM on October 14, 2013


Yes, yes, yes, someone set Walt's final arc to El Paso and it's even better than I hoped it would be! (I have been waiting for someone to do this since it aired...)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:59 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heisenbaby

Way down here at the bottom of this giant thread, I will bitch to myself quietly about this. This is a pet peeve of mine. Why dress your kid in a costume based on a show you won't let them watch until 2023 or so? Why do people put babies in ironic onesies? The kid's a kid, not a billboard. If he's too young to understand the holiday and express a costume preference make 'em a pumpkin or a crayon and have done with it. I hate it when people make small children the butt of a joke they can't possibly understand. Look, it's so funny, he's dressed like a meth dealing murderer but he's actually an innocent toddler. Tee hee, hee hee.

/grumpyrant
posted by Diablevert at 9:47 PM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Team Walt
posted by planetesimal at 4:26 AM on October 15, 2013


Yo, I have a nearly 0% chance of being busted, selling Blue Platinum meth out of my underground laboratory now, bitches! Not a single dead-eyed Opie in sight.

My super sleazy lawyers have mastered the Chewbacca defense, several drug cartels are clamoring for my pristine product, and a DEA mole is now protecting my back.

I'm going for diplomatic immunity now, just $15,000,000 and I'm there.

I'll probably stop after that. No need to get greedy.

There! Now I can close--Wait, I can almost get a Space Hazmat Suit?!

Okay, just a little more.

What?

I can quit any time I want.

help?

posted by misha at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2013


Don't worry it only took me most of last night and most of today to get it all...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:02 AM on October 15, 2013


I don't know if I'm going to buy the Immortal Lawyers. I mean, at this point I don't even need lawyers.
posted by box at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I got up to 2887% chance of being arrested and I never was. The game is broken.
posted by ColdChef at 1:14 PM on October 15, 2013


Clicking Bad is rather awesome. It's not just another iteration of the "incrementing" game (traced through Candy Box and Cookie Clicker), but a legitimate improvement, since you have to both make meth and sell it; if making gets ahead of selling you end up with a big useless stockpike, if selling gets ahead of making you have nothing left to sell. So it's not just BIGGER BIGGER MOAR MOAR but getting a good ratio.
posted by JHarris at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2013


Why I'd dress my (non-existent) kids up as Breaking Bad characters:
* Because I don't have pets I can dress up as Breaking Bad characters
* for me and my friends to enjoy
* for my kids to show their college friends
posted by Pronoiac at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


if making gets ahead of selling you end up with a big useless stockpike,

This is where Heisenberg takes a little vacation....
posted by mikelieman at 3:23 PM on October 15, 2013


It's not just another iteration of the "incrementing" game (traced through Candy Box and Cookie Clicker), but a legitimate improvement, since you have to both make meth and sell it

A Dark Room was another Candyboxlike that had a good economy, I thought.
posted by painquale at 7:16 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A chart of Every Outfit Walter White Ever Wore in chronological order. I see they didn't miss the scene when he was only wearing the hat.
posted by heatvision at 8:10 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, I am the only person on earth who for some inexplicable reason liked Todd?

He was just so darn polite
posted by fullerine at 11:13 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also liked Todd. His character is kind of an antidote to the BADDIES R BAD thing the show had going up until that point. Just because a person occasionally does very, very bad things doesn't mean their entire personality is dedicated to it.

(Of course, the creepy thing about Todd is that his personality wasn't affected at all by the very, very bad things.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:13 PM on October 16, 2013


ColdChef: "FWIW, I got up to 2887% chance of being arrested and I never was. The game is broken."

You never actually get arrested but they do take a lot of your stuff away. Which, once you get up into the million-dollar leagues, is probably actually pretty accurate.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:54 PM on October 16, 2013


Walter White's ABQ funeral will be livestreamed this Saturday. Background on the event.

BrBa camera operator Andy Voegeli has been tweeting previously unseen behind-the-scenes photos from the show. Includes shots of Bryan Cranston dressed up like Otto Preminger from his first day directing episode 2.1.
posted by heatvision at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Vince Gilligan acknowledges the role of piracy in BrBa's popularity:

“I see that there’s two sides to this coin, if I’m being honest,” Gilligan said in an interview with the BBC. “In some ways the illegal downloading has helped us, certainly, in terms of brand awareness,” he said. “The downside is a lot of folks who worked on the show would have made more money, myself included, if all those downloads had been legal.”
posted by heatvision at 6:18 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I *have* cable tv, and AMC, but it's just easier to download it to timeshift than to tell the DVR to do it.
posted by mikelieman at 7:47 AM on October 18, 2013


Some people with actual relatives buried in the cemetery are displeased with the presence of a W.W. headstone

W.W.'s funeral rolls 80 cars deep, but livestream blocked by YouTube
posted by heatvision at 5:05 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


guys, Bryan Cranston has done a voice over of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien, available on audible
/swoon
posted by angrycat at 10:43 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Some people with actual relatives buried in the cemetery are displeased with the presence of a W.W. headstone"

Both of my maternal grandparents are buried there, as well as my great-grandparents (that grandmother's parents and the only great-grandparents I had the opportunity to know). And I think, but am uncertain, that my paternal grandparents are buried there, too.

So I have a lot of family buried in that cemetery. I'm pretty okay with the Walter White marker.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:44 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


guys, Bryan Cranston has done a voice over of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien, available on audible

Holy crap, thank you for telling us about this! I'm going to download it tonight!
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:10 PM on October 20, 2013


DING
posted by maggieb at 12:06 PM on October 21, 2013


^That site is useless without an exploding wheelchair easter egg.
posted by planetesimal at 12:13 PM on October 21, 2013


Question about the Clicking Bad thing - would there be any reason not to leave it running overnight, at the office? It's not using up bandwidth or resources, is it?
posted by jbickers at 1:35 PM on October 21, 2013


In the past I've noticed the game pro-rate gains made while the window is closed. Like, if you closed the window for an hour then opened it, it'd notice how long you were off and give you what you missed. But then I've noticed it isn't consistent about doing that, may not give you everything, and in any event may be old behavior. Testing it out now reveals it not happening. Hmm.
posted by JHarris at 1:42 PM on October 21, 2013


Proud owner of two Heisenbelts, my game has been running since the day it was posted.
posted by maggieb at 2:34 PM on October 21, 2013


Proud owner of two Heisenbelts, my game has been running since the day it was posted.

Ditto. Got 10.1 billion dollars a second coming in, with a surplus of product slowly accruing. I'm set to hit the quadrillion dollar mark at around midnight, which I hope will unlock the final achievement. I'm kind of at the "just-stack-it-up-and-spray-for-silverfish" point.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:49 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've also got two Heisenbelts, but what I really want is a hundred senators.
posted by box at 6:43 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Internet's Problem with TV Wives
posted by Rhomboid at 7:52 PM on October 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


TV needs more husbands that get in the way of wives doing cool but stupid stuff.
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on October 21, 2013


W.W. headstone to be removed from cemetery
posted by heatvision at 5:45 AM on October 22, 2013


TV needs more husbands that get in the way of wives doing cool but stupid stuff.

I know, there's been a dearth of bumbling and idiotic husbands on television over the past 20-30 years!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:18 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


TV needs more husbands that get in the way of wives doing cool but stupid stuff.

Has there been one since Ricky Ricardo?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:28 AM on October 22, 2013


Dan Conner (played by John Goodnman) on Roseanne wasn't the typical bumbling sitcom husband.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:48 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, but his role wasn't to spoil all of Roseanne's plans.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Timelapse: Breaking Bad Superfan Filming Location Road Trip
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:13 PM on October 23, 2013


But at some point, the nice people who live at the actual White house need to just put bear traps out for all the Redditors who pose in front of their home.
posted by planetesimal at 1:18 PM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comic: 4chan's /tv/ discusses the Breaking Bad finale
posted by Rhaomi at 8:03 AM on October 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The last page of the final script
posted by maggieb at 11:17 PM on October 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cranston narrates new history series on H2, laughs at finale dream theory
posted by heatvision at 8:17 AM on October 28, 2013


Even better, the next to last page of the final script
CLOSE ANGLE -- JESSE. Grimly determined, fearing nothing, he 
speeds through the darkness. From here on, it's up to us to 
say where he's headed. I like to call it "something better," 
and leave it at that.
And, lots more about Walt's final scene

(Ripped from cardiganointment at reddit)
posted by maggieb at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interesting how "Grimly determined, fearing nothing" became more like "joyous, exultant" in the cut. Maybe they felt they had to make Jesse's hope of "something better" a little clearer. Perhaps they shot several variants and felt that worked best?
posted by iotic at 1:08 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting how "Grimly determined, fearing nothing" became more like "joyous, exultant" in the cut.

....Wait, what? He was bursting into tears as he drove away.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:32 PM on October 28, 2013


Was he? Jeepers, I'd better watch that again. I read it as an emotional victory.
posted by iotic at 2:12 PM on October 28, 2013


Well, they seemed like cathartic/joyful tears to me, rather than tears of sadness.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:13 PM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


In any case that's a little ways from "grimly determined ..."
posted by iotic at 2:21 PM on October 28, 2013


That might have been a concession to Aaron Paul, since he spent the majority of those final 8 episodes portraying some variation of grim determination.
posted by mannequito at 2:29 PM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Watch the scene again. Jesse goes from grim to cheering.
posted by planetesimal at 2:36 PM on October 28, 2013


That was probably a choice of Aaron Paul's. He knows the character better than the writers do. I think the actors have a lot of overriding say during filming. Walt was written as intentionally killing Jane by rolling her on her back, but Bryan Cranston said that Walt would not do that so they changed it on the fly.
posted by painquale at 2:46 PM on October 28, 2013


Screamy kind of a cheer.
posted by merelyglib at 3:56 PM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


They've said that they love to mine previous episodes for things they can reference, so maybe that's what this was. The first thing I thought of was that heartbreaking deleted go-kart scene from Open House. That was also screaming and crying and determined driving, yet the finale has catharsis that that previous scene lacked. So to me, it deepens that previous scene: Jesse needed so badly to get out of this unhealthy world after Gale, and this makes the go-karting scene also read as an unfulfilled wish for escape, when it just felt like an expression of loneliness and despair in the original run.

Speaking of that episode, this last stretch of episodes certainly brought me back to Jesse's quote then: "Getting the shit kicked out of you… you do get used to it.”
posted by heatvision at 7:02 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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